Gordon defers submission of report on PhilHealth anomalies to avoid 'dividing' Senate

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2020 06:52 PM

Senator Richard J. Gordon participates in a Senate hearing on February 6, 2020. Senate PRIB

MANILA - Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon on Monday deferred presenting in plenary his panel's findings on alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), saying he does not want to "divide the Senate."

Gordon's report - stemming from a 2019 Senate investigation - tagged "all" PhilHealth regional vice presidents as members of the alleged PhilHealth mafia, which some senators are reluctant to back as these officials provided relevant documents to help the Senate unveil more recent irregularities in the state-run insurance firm.

"I have decided not to make that report today to do certain things I need to do. I don't want to divide the Senate. I want to present the report... in a less charged manner," Gordon said in plenary.

"I will temporarily refrain from making any report that might be construed as colliding with the report," he said, without making any particular reference.

Recently, the findings of Senate President Vicente Sotto III's Committee of the Whole against PhilHealth's executive board was approved.

Sotto's report recommended the filing of graft and malversation charges against Health Sec. Francisco Duque III, resigned PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and other officials who approved the release of COVID-19 funds to dialysis centers and maternity clinics that were not catering to coronavirus patients.

Nearly all senators, including Gordon, signed Sotto's report, which also claimed that several PhilHealth officials tried to overprice tech equipment needed for the agency's modernization program.

Last week, Sen. Panfilo Lacson noted that Gordon cannot discuss his report in plenary should it fail to get the backing of at least half of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's 17 members.

"This is not a question kung sino ang mas magaling, sino ang mas mataas... Dahil nauna na kayo, fine," Gordon said.

(This is not a question about whose report is better, who is more high-ranking... But because your report was first presented in plenary, fine.)

Gordon earlier said that the submission of his committee's findings to plenary was delayed by a year because his panel also investigated several other issues, including anomalies in the Bureau of Corrections, and another report on policemen who resell illegal drugs confiscated from anti-narcotics operations.