Duque ‘must appear’ in Senate PhilHealth probe – Drilon
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should appear in the Senate investigation into alleged irregularities currently plaguing the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Senate Minority Franklin Drilon said Wednesday.
“He should attend the next hearing…Secretary Duque must appear,” Drilon said in an online interview with reporters.
Duque acts as chairperson of PhilHealth in an ex-officio capacity.
According to Drilon, senators need to know Duque’s role in the approval of a P30-billion Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) meant as an allocation for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
During Tuesday’s Senate investigation, Senator Panfilo Lacson said a review of PhilHealth records showed a “pattern” that some hospitals, particularly private-owned, were favored over state-owned hospitals in the distribution of IRM.
It was also revealed that even weeks before PhilHealth board approved the guidelines for the use of IRM funds, the state insurer has already handed out P9.3 billion in cash advances to various hospitals, especially to those “favored” health facilities.
“He should attend the next hearing because for example the interim reimbursement mechanism is supposed to have been covered by a board resolution although there are now questions raised as to when the approval came,” Drilon went on.
But Drilon pointed out there has yet to be proof that the health secretary is linked to the alleged widespread corruption in PhilHealth.
“In fairness, none at this point at certainly it is a valid question to ask during the board meetings when the IRM board resolution was approved,” the senator said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also earlier questioned why Duque seemed to be “unscathed” in the claims of corruption currently hounding PhilHealth.
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