No misuse of P10 billion in PhilHealth funds, says ex-health chief

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2018 03:03 PM

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, January 22, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Thursday denied diverting P10.6 billion in funds from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) to the Department of Health (DOH) during her time.

She explained that no funds were misused since the amount was not given to PhilHealth in the first place.

"Unang una po, hindi po totoo na dinivert 'yung P10.6 billion galing PhilHealth papuntang DOH kasi wala naman po talagang P10.6 billion na napunta sa PhilHealth," she said in a media forum. 

(It is not true that the P10.6 billion from PhilHealth was diverted to the DOH because there was no P10.6 billion that went to PhilHealth.)

In a congressional review of the health insurance corporation's finances, PhilHealth officials accused Garin and their former chief, Alex Padilla, of misusing billions of pesos primarily allotted for senior citizens.

PhilHealth Chief Operating Officer Ruben Basa claimed Garin and Padilla wrote to the budget department to allow them to use the P10.6-billion unprogrammed appropriations for health facilities in August 2015.

Garin, meanwhile, accused PhilHealth of not being transparent about its use of funds and noted that during her stint as health chief, she advocated for the care of elderly Filipinos not covered by the state agency.

"Nakakalungkot po na ang PhilHealth, hindi inaamin ang katotohanan po na patuloy na ako, kami sa DOH, noong ako'y secretary pinaglaban namin ang senior citizens," she said.

(It is sad that PhilHealth is not admitting the truth that when I was secretary, we at the DOH advocated for [the welfare of] senior citizens.)

The former health chief called for an independent audit of PhilHealth's finances and noted that its current officials were simply blaming the previous administration for the agency's financial woes.

“Pilit nila pinagbibintang sa nakaraang administrasyon 'yung kanilang dismal financial situation ngayon," she said.

(They keep on blaming the past administration for their dismal financial situation now.)

"Busisiin po natin ang PhilHealth. Tingnan po natin kung ano 'yung mga tinatago nila. Bakit pinagpipilit na ibinibintang sa nakaraang administrasyon 'yung mga kaguluhan na sila naman ang may gawa?" she added.

(Let us examine PhilHealth. Let us look at what they are hiding. Why do they keep on blaming the past administration for the mess they made?)

Garin also expressed confidence that she would be cleared of allegations hurled against her and offered to testify in a legislative inquiry on the matter.

"Alam ko wala kami kasalanan (I know we did nothing wrong). I'm very confident I'll be vindicated in the proper court..." she said.