5M health cards linked to Arroyo campaign in 2004 haunts Duque

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 06:35 PM

MANILA--Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered the distribution of 5 million health cards to make up for the survey lead of the late Fernando Poe Jr. over then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shortly before the 2004 elections, an official of the state health insurance firm said Tuesday.

The so-called Plan 5 million led to unpaid premiums which made Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) lose money, said regional vice president Dennis Adre. Duque was then president of PhilHealth.

"That was the first time that the financial statement of PhilHealth had been window-dressed," he told senators investigating alleged anomalies at the state-run firm.

"They had to make up for the losses that were incurred for the non-payment of premiums during the Plan 5 million."

Adre alleged that Duque had called regional vice presidents to a meeting at the central office to explain how the PhilHealth cards would be distributed.

"I deny strongly said allegation," Duque replied, saying there was "no correlation between the PhilHealth program and the elections."

He said the agency distributed the health cards based on an executive order by Arroyo, and cases subsequently filed against him and other officials were later dismissed by the Ombudsman.

Sen. Grace Poe, whose father lost to Arroyo in the 2004 presidential race, criticized how PhilHealth was allegedly used by the Arroyo administration for the elections. Mrs. Arroyo was then seeking a fresh 6-year term after taking over from deposed President Joseph Estrada in January 2001. 

"Parang binibili mo na rin yung boto sa ganung klaseng paraan," she said.