MANILA - Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Thursday said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III “verbally threatened” her during a recent Senate inquiry into alleged anomalies at the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
It was Sen. Panfilo Lacson who first said he got information from a group of doctors saying Duque had threatened Garin during last month’s Senate hearing.
Garin confirmed that such incident took place, but she said she and Duque have since patched things up.
“When I was asked by other senators how and when did the PhilHealth fraud start, he started answering, medyo nagalit ng kaunti si Sec. Duque (Sec. Duque got mad),” Garin said during Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on alleged anomalies at PhilHealth.
“He told me, ‘Be careful with what you say here, marami akong hawak sa iyo (I know a lot about you).’”
Duque said he said those things because he felt slighted by Garin’s insinuation that PhilHealth started to deteriorate under his leadership as health secretary.
“Nagpanting ang tenga ko nung sinabi ni dating kalihim Garin na ‘yung fraud nag-umpisa doon sa pag-enrol ng administrasyon ko ng mga 5 million mahihirap na mga pamilya sa PhilHealth,” he said.
(I got irked because former secretary Garin said the fraud started when my administration enrolled some 5 million indigent families in PhilHealth.)
“Siyempre dahil naisip ko na pinaghirapan namin ang makapag-enrol ng mahihirap sa PhilHealth, biglang inuugnay sa fraud, parang napikon ako masyado.”
(We worked hard in enrolling the poor in PhilHealth and then suddenly it gets connected to fraud. I got irked.)
The Senate panel launched the investigation following allegations that the Quezon City-based WellMed Dialysis Center forged signatures between 2016 and 2018 to file claims for patients who have long been dead.
The committee also tackled the actuarial life of the state-run insurance firm and its ability to cater to its members' needs in anticipation of the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law.