New PhilHealth chief urged to form board of public health experts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2020 12:24 PM

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MANILA - Newly-appointed PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran should form a board of directors composed of public health experts as he admitted he does "not know what is public health," a senator said Wednesday.

PhilHealth can "spell the difference between life and death for Filipinos" especially during the pandemic, said Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who authored the Universal Healthcare Law.

"Sinabi niya mismo na hindi siya maalam sa field ng public health so I really hope he will listen to advice and form a board of directors of public health experts," she told ANC.

(He himself said he does not know much about public health so I really hope he will listen to advice and form a board of directors of public health experts.)

"I really hope Atty, Gierran would be able to put to an end the seasonal controversy that PhilHealth continues to face. His success would restore the much needed faith of the public on PhilHealth."

Hontiveros said she would give Gierran the "benefit of the doubt" as he is qualified to lead the state insurance firm under the UHC Law for his experience in finance as a certified public accountant and his experience in management as director of the National Bureau of Investigation.

"He has to hit the ground running by going after the big fish but if he is the right man for the job ay isang bagay na kailangan niyang patunayan," she said.

Gierran has to "learn really fast" as the Philippines battles the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.

"He has to hit the ground running on many fronts, by immediately intensifying fraud detection, by digitizing data, finding out who needs to be held accountable and making PhilHealth finally consistently transparent," Hontiveros said.

Gierran had said he would create his own management committee and examine PhilHealth's financial statements, including its fund release to hospitals, which in some instances came before a board resolution. 

“That’s illegal. That’s technical malversation,” he said. 

Gierran also said he would bring to PhilHealth his knowledge on financial management, law, insurance, and investigation. 

“I would like to succeed… I am scared, but I am not cowed.” Gierran said. “I want to lead people. If you lead people, you set yourself as an example.” 
 
“My job is to restore the trust of the people in the government… I am new. Give me a chance to lead,” he added. “Don’t pre-judge me… If I can’t do my job, I’ll tell my principal.”