‘Milking machine’: Makabayan bloc wants PhilHealth execs sacked
MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) should be held accountable and removed from their posts amid the alleged anomalies hounding the state health insurance fund, several lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc said Thursday.
In an online press briefing, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the flawed health care system in the country has allowed PhilHealth to be used as a “milking machine” by those in power.
“Matagal na naming sinasabi, hindi uubra na ang ating healthcare system ay nakasandig dito sa usapin na parang insurance na ang mukha ay itong PhilHealth,” Zarate said.
(We have said this long ago, our healthcare system will not work if we are dependent on an insurance-type basis like that of PhilHealth.)
“Noon pa man, ang tawag pa noon ay Medicare pa, hanggang ngayon naging PhilHealth na siya, ay nagiging gatasan siya ng mga nasa kapangyarihan, nasa administrayon. Ginagawa siyang gatasan ng mga mafia sa loob ng sistemang yan,” the lawmaker added.
(Even before when PhilHealth was called Medicare, it has been a milking machine for those in power in the administration. It is being used as a milking machine of the mafias within the system.)
Zarate said that officials involved in anomalous activities in the agency should be removed from their post and that a “paradigm shift” should happen in the country’s public health system.
“Nananawagan ang ating mga kasamahan, sibakin ang mga opisyal diyan but more than that, kailangan na talaga, ito ang nakita dating leksyon nitong pandemya ng COVID, makaroon ng paradigm shift sa ating public health system na hindi dapat inaasa dito sa PhilHealth,” Zarate said.
(We are appealing that the officials be removed from their posts and beyond that, the pandemic taught us to have a paradigm shift in our public health system that it should not be dependent on PhilHealth.)
Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, meanwhile, echoed Zarate’s “milking machine” comparison as he pointed out that both PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III should be held accountable.
PhilHealth is an agency under the DOH.
“Alam ninyo naman kapag may nabubulok, mabaho. Ang problema, umaalingasaw na ‘yung baho at hanggang ngayon si [President Rodrigo] Duterte ay napakalaki pa rin ng tiwala sa kanyang in-appoint na si General Morales na namumuno ngayon ng PhilHealth,” Gaite said.
(When something is rotten, it smells. The problem is you can smell the odor but President Duterte still has trust to his appointee, General Morales who heads PhilHealth.)
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, meanwhile, called the alleged anomalies in the agency an act of treason.
“Treason o kataksilan sa bayan ang ganitong laki ng lansakang pandarambong sa pondo galing sa bulsa ng mamamayan para sa kanilang pangangailangan pero gobyerno mismo ang nagnakaw at tinatanggalan ang mga tao ng magagamit para sa kanilang pangangailangan,” Cullamat said.
(This corruption of huge amounts of money from the public’s pockets is a betrayal of the country but it is the government itself that is taking away the funds the public can use for their needs.)
Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said that anomalies have been hounding PhilHealth even before Morales was appointed.
Brosas said that now, PhilHealth is now using overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as “milking machine” by increasing their premiums.
“Napakalaking budget ang kinakain ng PhilHealth. Tapos ngayon, bukod sa hindi na nga nito natutugunan ang pangangailangang pangkalusugan ng nakakararami, nauubos na pala ang pondo nito dahil sa mga buwaya, lalo na mga magnanakaw na opisyales,” Brosas said.
(PhilHealth is taking up so much budget but aside from not being able to respond to the health needs of many, the funds are also depleting because of officials who are stealing them.)
Brosas urged Duterte to remove Morales from office as she questioned the latter’s background and experience to head PhilHealth, saying that a person has to have finance and health background to head the agency.
ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said that PhilHealth should be abolished and that funds supposedly for the agency should instead go straight to hospitals.
“Kaya dapat lang imbestigahan at panagutin, mula kay Morales pababa itong tinatawag na korapsyon. Napakalaki ng P15 billion na sinasabing korapsyon sa PhilHealth maliban doon sa mga nauna na nating nabungkal noong 17th Congress,” Castro said.
(Morales and those below him should be investigated over the alleged corruption. P15 billion is a huge amount on top of the alleged corrupted funds unraveled during 17th Congress.)
This was echoed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago who said that healthcare system should not be privatized.
“Imbes na sa isang privatized, marketized na healthcare system ibubuhos, dapat talaga ilagay [ang pondo] diretso na doon sa mga pampublikong ospital natin lalong-lalo na sa panahon ngayon na ultimo mga supplies, mga pangangailangan, mga doktor pa mismo, mga healthcare workers natin yang nag-aambag para lang makatulong sa mga pasyente,” Elago said.
(Instead of giving funds to a privatized and marketized healthcare system, funds should instead be given to public hospitals especially now when doctors and healthcare workers themselves are shouldering supplies and other needs to help their patients.)
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