‘Where are the big brothers from Cabinet?’ Recto asks as PhilHealth ‘imploding’ amid pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday lamented how the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which has been rocked by fresh allegations of corruption, is “imploding” in the middle of a pandemic.
“No matter what you do, unless we’re able to defeat the virus, it will be difficult to open up the economy, to have consumer confidence, to have investor confidence. More so now, look at the situation: one of the most important institutions in our health system is imploding,” Recto said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
“Think about that, we have an investigation right now in the Senate,” he added.
Recto said the PhilHealth board, which includes five Cabinet secretaries, plays a major role in ensuring that the taxpayers’ money is protected.
Asked if he thinks the PhilHealth board had been negligent in their duties, the lawmaker said: “It would appear.”
“I mean, there should be no investigation to begin with, dapat trabaho nila yun. Hindi trabaho ng Senado yun e. (It should have been their job. That’s not the job of the Senate.) Why are we investigating PhilHealth? Napabayaan ng board siguro (The board may have been negligent),” he added.
“Now we have a pandemic, we all know that PhilHealth would be a major role. Now PhilHealth is imploding, nag-board meeting na ba sila, pinagusapan na ba nila ito (Have they conducted a board meeting yet? Have they discussed this)? What is their plan?” he added.
Under the law, the secretaries of the Department of Health, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development act as ex-officio members of the PhilHealth board.
Other members include representatives from hospitals, local governments, as well as health practitioners, according to Recto.
“The most important there is the five ex-officio members. You have the top brass there,” Recto said.
“Since we started the investigation in the Senate, nag-special board meeting na ba (have they conducted a special board meeting)? What about the big brothers in the Cabinet? Nag special board meeting na ba (have they conducted a special board meeting)? Are they addressing the issue already?” the senator asked.
PhilHealth is currently facing separate investigations of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, and a high-level task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte and led by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Six regional vice presidents of PhilHealth recently heeded the call of DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to temporarily vacate their posts as the task force conducts its probe.
The House resumed its investigation on Monday while the Senate’s probe is set for continuation on Tuesday, where PhilHealth’s ex-officio chairman, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, is expected to attend.
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