Dante Gierran as new Philhealth chief forces question: What are his qualifications?

September 1, 2020 - 2:24 PM
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Former NBI director Dante Gierran (Philstar.com/File)

The new head of the embattled state insurer admitted having no knowledge of public health nor the agency following his appointment.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed former National Bureau of Investigation chief Dante Gierran as the new head of the embattled Philippine Heath Insurance Corporation during his address that was aired on Monday evening.

Gierran replaced Ricardo Morales, who was tagged in the alleged mafia accused of pocketing P15 billion from the agency.

Morales resigned from his post after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Duterte had hinted it’s time for the former PhilHealth chief to quit due to his “on-and-off health situation.”

Gierran’s doubts

Despite Duterte’s confidence and support for him, Gierran admitted in televised interviews that he does not know about the goings-on in PhilHealth and public health.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Gierran said that he is scared of his new role because he is not familiar with the operations of PhilHealth.

“I’m a little bit scared…because I don’t know the operation of PhilHealth. I do not know what public health is,” he said.

Gierran also mentioned these concerns in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source. However, he still resolved to perform the gargantuan task of cleaning up PhilHealth and restore the trust of Filipinos to the agency again.

“One thing is sure, I will not commit the wrong that was made by the previous management of PhilHealth. We have to do the right. We have to do what is appropriate. In that way, we will be restoring the confidence of the Filipinos to PhilHealth,” Gierran said.

Some high-ranking officials also expressed their trust and confidence to the new PhilHealth leader.

Sen. PanfiloPing” Lacson hoped and quipped that PhilHealth will not be “Dante’s Inferno” under Gierran’s management.

“Dante Gierran will head PhilHealth. He is a good man. I hope and I mean it—that PhilHealth will not be Dante’s Inferno,” Lacson tweeted, referring to the first part of Dante Alighieri‘s poem “Divine Comedy.”

Guevarra also perceived Gierran’s credentials fit to lead PhilHealth.

“Former NBI Director Gierran’s legal and accounting background, his well-known investigative skills, administrative abilities and fiscal prudence make him fit for the PhilHealth top position, and equip him well to pursue the cleaning process and reformation at PhilHealth to their logical conclusion,” Guevarra said.

Is Gierran qualified?

Several Filipinos echoed Gierran’s fears and concerns to take the helm of PhilHealth at a time it was rife with corruption allegations and other issues. They questioned the new chief’s qualifications.

Sociology professor Ash Presto lamented that the government seemed to be shameless in choosing unqualified officers to run the beleaguered institution.

“You’d think they’d be ashamed to appoint someone totally unqualified to run an institution that spells life and death for Filipinos. But nooooo, they chose to take this opportunity to ensure that only their political agenda survive. Addressing corruption with another corruption,” Presto said.

Gierran had been in the NBI for most of his career. He was the NBI director in 2016 when the bureau probed into alleged “ghost” dialysis treatments of a clinic in Quezon City which were supposedly charged to PhilHealth.

Prior to this, he was the NBI regional director for Davao from 2013 to 2016. He joined the agency in 1990 and then became the training director of NBI Davao after.

As a certified public accountant, Gierran also served as a credit investigator for 11 years.

Similar to Gierran, Morales’ background as a military man also did not meet the specified qualifications to lead the state-run institution.

The former NBI chief graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1977 and had since held ranks within the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Qualifications

Several users shared screenshots of a provision of the Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Law where the qualifications of the President and Chief Executive Officer of PhilHealth are indicated.

In Section 14 of the UHC law, it is stated that:

  1. The PhilHealth Board of Directors or the Board shall be the ones to recommend the President the person to appoint as the new chief of the state insurer.
  2. This person must be:

“A Filipino citizen and must have at least seven years of experience in the field of public health, management, finance and health economics or a combination of any of these expertise.”