Baldoz insists fund transfer aboveboard
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Tuesday said that the transfer of P550 million in Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) funds to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) during the Arroyo administration was above board.
Baldoz insisted the transfer was legal because the money did not come from the Owwa trust fund but from the “Medicare fund” which is collected specifically for the health care of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“This is not the trust fund. It was really a Medicare fund. There is a separate Medicare fund,” Baldoz told reporters at the First National Congress of OFWs and families at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
“This was not covered by that law which says ‘You can’t touch this because it’s for OFWs,’” she said.
Baldoz made the comment after former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez on Monday included her in the plunder case he earlier filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the Department of Justice.
Chavez claimed the transfer of the P550 million to PhilHealth was illegal and was designed to boost Arroyo’s presidential candidacy in 2004.
According to Chavez, Owwa funds are “private, special trust funds” which should not “co-mingle” with public funds from PhilHealth.
“There is nothing in the Constitution or any statute that authorizes even the President or the board of trustees of Owwa to transfer this money belonging to OFWs to PhilHealth,” he said.
When asked if the transfer was made to support Arroyo’s candidacy, Baldoz said: “Let us ask that of PhilHealth.”
Baldoz asserted that the Owwa board resolution allowing the transfer was “for the continuous coverage of the Philippine health insurance of OFWs.”
She said the fund transfer to PhilHealth was made “since they’re the ones who manage the National Health Insurance Program.”
Baldoz was former administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Philip C. Tubeza
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