Duque to attend next week's Senate hearing on alleged PhilHealth corruption: senator

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 11:34 AM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 11:45 AM

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MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will attend next week's Senate hearing into alleged corruption at PhilHealth, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said Wednesday.

Duque, as health chief, serves as chairperson of the state insurance firm. He was also president and CEO of the agency from 2001 to 2005 and sat in its board. 

"Yes, I believe he will be in the third hearing. He’ll be attending. A lot of our colleagues have a lot of questions for him. Obviously the buck stops there, he’s chairman of the PhilHealth. He used to be PhilHealth president as well. I’m sure he knows about the shenanigans," Zubiri told ANC's Headstart.

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It was during Duque's stint at PhilHealth that the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health flagged the agency's "excesses in administrative expenses" in 2004, 2008, and 2009, Hontiveros said in a separate interview with ANC.

"The past 2 decades si Secretary Duque lang 'yung may institutional memory tungkol sa PhilHealth. So maitatanong talaga natin hanggang saan ang involvement at ang kaalaman ni Secretary Duque sa lahat ng mga problemang ito," she said.

(In the past 2 decades, only Secretary Duque has institutional memory about PhilHealth. So we can really ask him his involvement and knowledge in all these issues.)

Hontiveros added that in 2004, Duque was also in PhilHealth when P500 million in funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) was used to purchase PhilHealth cards bearing the slogan of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was then running for the presidency three years since assuming the post following the ouster of Joseph Estrada. 

"Nasan si (Where is) Duque, he’s been associated with the PhilHealth board for 2 decades straight except for 1 year so why is he silent?" she said.

Senators have several times called for Duque's resignation for his "failure of leadership" in addressing the coronavirus crisis.