Duterte wants PhilHealth abolished or privatized - Sotto

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2020 09:44 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to abolish the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. due to alleged corruption within the state insurer, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said Thursday.

Sotto said he was summoned to a meeting with the President Wednesday evening where they discussed the Universal Health Care Act, the PhilHealth Law as well as possible amendments to the Anti-Red Tape Law.

"He 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."

Sotto was referring to former National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran who has been appointed by Duterte as the new PhilHhealth president and chief executive officer, weeks after retired general Ricardo Morales tendered his resignation.

While the Philhealth issue was discussed, the President did not mention the name of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who is accused of having a hand in the PhilHealth anomalies.

"I was ready to talk about it but he did not bring the name up," Sotto said.

The Senate on its adopted Committee of the Whole report, has recommended that Duque, PhilHealth’s ex-officio chairman of the board, be replaced by a more competent official, and be charged criminally and administratively by the Department of Justice.

Duterte has refused to fire Duque, saying negligence is not enough reason to fire the health chief.

"Kung hindi ka corrupt (If you are not corrupt), wala ka namang, you don't have any reason to resign," Duterte said.

Despite the non-mention of Duque's status, Sotto disclosed that he was able to discuss with the president, his filed Senate Bill 1829 amending the Universal Health Care Act.

The bill proposes the appointment of the Secretary of Finance as ex-officio chairman of the PhilHealth Board replacing the DOH Secretary.

"He agreed to my proposal," he said.