Lacson doesn’t want Duque sacked as DOH chief
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Saturday denied that he would want Health Secretary Francisco Duque III removed from his post.
However, he noted in a text message to INQUIRER.net that letting Duque keep his post would be “an indictment of our system of double standard in our government which is wrong because it encourages patronage.”
Although he did not name the “health chief” in a cryptic tweet, Lacson said the official was involved in a controversy in 2004, which happened to be when Duque was president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth)
At present, Duque also serves as the ex-officio chairman of PhilHealth.
“It is difficult to understand why the chairman who happens to be the DOH secretary was spared while the board members were asked to resign,” Lacson said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier asked PhilHealth officials to resign over the allegations of a “ghost dialysis” scheme.
“That is also the reason why I was reminded about the P500M diverted OWWA funds to procure Philhealth cards for the sole purpose of enhancing the candidacy of Sec Duque’s principal in the 2004 presidential election while he was serving as Philhealth president,” Lacson pointed out.
The senator was referring to the alleged illegal use of P530 million in funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to purchase PhilHealth cards that were distributed nationwide.
The cards allegedly had a photo of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now the House Speaker, and also had the acronym “GMA” — which stood for Greater Medical Access — and “GMA Para sa Masa, Para sa Lahat.”
Arroyo drew flak for authorizing the transfer just before she ran for president in 2004.
“We are talking here of hard-earned people’s money that was misappropriated for the election campaign of a sitting president,” the senator reacted.
“Half a billion pesos in 2004, and now P154B, and he expected me to pass? I will tell him over and over again – No way, damn it,” Lacson added.
According to an Inquirer report, the state health insurance company suffered a P154 billion loss due to overpayments and fraud.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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