Duterte gives new PhilHealth chief until December to fix corruption mess

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2020 03:26 PM

Duterte gives new PhilHealth chief until December to fix corruption mess 1
President Rodrigo Duterte gives new PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran until December to clean up corruption in the state health insurer. ABS-CBN News File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte wants new Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) chief Dante Gierran to "clean up" corruption in the state health insurer by December, Malacañang said Thursday.

Duterte will see if Gierran, a former head of the National Bureau of Investigation, can cleanse the ranks of PhilHealth before he considers abolishing or privatizing the agency, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

"The President wants to clean up PhilHealth, and that is why the deadline given to Attorney Gierran is to enable him—or a deadline to clean up the organization," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

"File all the cases that need to be filed, suspend, terminate, whatever you need to do in order to cleanse the ranks of PhilHealth," he said.

A seasoned investigator, Gierran took over the leadership of PhilHealth from retired military general Ricardo Morales who was asked by Duterte to resign due to medical reasons even as different institutions were looking into alleged anomalies in the agency.

Controversies surrounding PhilHealth were among the issues discussed during the President's meeting with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday evening, according to Duterte's former aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.
Sotto on Thursday said it was he who recommended to the President to review the leadership of Gierran first before deciding on abolishing or privatizing PhilHealth.

"He (Duterte) said he wanted PhilHealth abolished or privatized. But I said it might be better to wait a few months and see how the new admin performs,” Sotto said. "I explained that PhilHealth is an insurance corp, and not a Health entity."

Duterte, according to Sotto, also agreed with his proposal to install the finance secretary as chair of the PhilHealth board, replacing the health secretary.

"He agreed to my proposal," said Sotto, who filed a bill on Monday seeking to amend the country's Universal Health Care law in relation to it.

Should the proposal push through, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will take over the chairmanship of the PhilHealth board from Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who has been criticized over alleged irregularities in the state health insurer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Duterte approved the recommendations of a multi-agency task force he formed to file charges against several executives of PhilHealth, including its former president Morales. Duque is not in the said list.