NEDA chief Karl Chua 'perfect' to lead PhilHealth: senator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 10:43 AM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 10:54 AM

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MANILA - Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will be "perfect" to head embattled state insurance firm PhilHealth, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said Wednesday after he had exposed several fraudulent schemes in the agency.

Zubiri said a person with finance or corporate background with "unquestionable" character and credibility should lead the agency.

"We need somebody like Karl Chua of the NEDA, he used to be undersecretary of finance and he’s now acting secretary of the NEDA," he told ANC's Headstart.

"Somebody like Karl Chua would be perfect for a job on PhilHealth because he’s a numbers guy. He will see the disparity and the discrepancies in the release of funds."

Under the Universal Healthcare Law, the president and CEO of PhilHealth must have at least 7 years of experience in the field of public health, management, finance, and health economics or a combination of any of these expertise.

Zubiri, however, said the President should not appoint a doctor.

"I believe the President should appoint somebody there shouldn't be a doctor. The insiders and doctors have told me that the President shouldn’t appoint a doctor because the doctors' focus is really on saving lives, not really on management of these corporate type endeavors," he said.

The state insurance firm is under fire for supposedly releasing millions of COVID-19 funds to medical facilities without virus patients such as dialysis and maternity care centers.

Its information and technology budget, pegged initially at P2.1 billion, was also criticized for containing allegedly overpriced items.

Ma. Fe Francisco, president of PhilHealth Workers for Hope, Integrity, Transparency, and Empowerment (PhilHealth-WHITE), earlier urged President Duterte to appoint a caretaker for PhilHealth "who is an expert in the field of healthcare financing."