Some Philhealth officials heed orders to step down. That’s it?

October 9, 2020 - 10:23 PM
1156
PhilHealth station
PhilHealth station addressing the financial needs of citizens in the public health system.

PhilHealth announced that 27 senior officers have resigned and 16 others have retired as of October 8, heeding the call of their new president Dante Gierran.

In a memorandum issued on September 30, Gierran called for the courtesy resignation of the 66 officials holding Salary Grade 26 and above in accordance to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to rid the agency of corruption. Government employees with this salary grade receive P109,593 to P122,744 a month.

Following the stepdown of 43 PhilHealth executives, Malacañang lauded Gierran for his “decisiveness” in directing the reorganization or reshuffling of the agency, which his predecessor apparently failed to carry out.

“The Palace welcomes the move of president and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran to implement an old PhilHealth Board Resolution, which his predecessor, Mr. Ricardo Morales, blatantly failed to carry out–directing all senior officers with Salary Grade 26 and above to tender their courtesy resignation,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“We commend PhilHealth CEO Gierran for his display of decisiveness,” Roque added.

Calls for accountability

In separate posts on October 9, Sen. Risa Hontiveros stressed that such “easy exit” is not enough. She called for accountability and justice for the millions worth of funds PhilHealth executives have allegedly stolen from the public.

“Kung totoo talaga ang layunin natin na linisin at ayusin ang PhilHealth, kailangan may hustisya. Bawal ang easy exit from justice and accountability. Kailangan may managot. Hindi free pass from accountability ang resignation letter,” she said.

Investigation must proceed despite the senior officials’ leaving their positions, Hontiveros added. However, this should not paralyze the much-needed operations of the state insurer.

“Ididiin ko ulit: This investigation must be seen through until the end. Ikulong natin ang mga dapat makulong. Hindi dapat binebeybi ang mga korap sa gobyerno. While we do this, we must ensure that this does not lead to a paralysis of PhilHealth operations, lalo na sa gitna ng pandemya at marami ang umaasa sa PhilHealth para sa kalusugan nila,” he said.

PhilHealth had faced multiple serious problems recently. Its executives were in hot water for allegedly pocketing P15 billion from the agency and having questionable budget and mismanagement of funds for the coronavirus pandemic.

PhilHealth’s former president Ricardo Morales and executive vice president Arnel de Jesus have stepped down before the month ended, citing health reasons.

Even with the resignation of some of Philhealth’s officials, Filipinos are urging others not to forget the scandal.

 

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Charges were filed

Last Friday, October 2, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a 29-page complaint affidavit against Morales and eight other PhilHealth officials for malversation, and graft and corruption.

The NBI found them involved in the release of P30 billion interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), which is PhilHealth’s funding measure dedicated to national calamity response.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who was also tagged in the same anomalies, continued to enjoy the support of Duterte.

“Secretary Duque is a hardworking government worker and they say that… Well, there has been a lot of things I have heard, I have read na—and even some advice na si—dapat daw si Duque, ikaw sir, ilaglag ko na because hindi maganda sa aking administration,” said the chief executive during his national address aired October 5.