Go after the 'big fish,' new PhilHealth chief told | Inquirer News

Go after the ‘big fish,’ new PhilHealth chief told

/ 09:36 AM September 02, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Newly appointed Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and chief executive officer Dante Gierran should go after the “big fish” involved in corrupt practices in the agency, a senator said Wednesday.

A former director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Gierran was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte at the helm of PhilHealth in the wake of corruption investigations being faced by the state insurer.

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“As a former NBI director umaasa ako na at the very least, alam ni Mr. Gierran na he has to hit the ground running at alam niya na ang dapat managot ay dapat panagutin,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.

“He has to hit the ground running by going after the big fish,” she added.

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Hontiveros also expressed hope that Gierran would be able to put an end to the “seasonal controversy” plaguing PhilHealth, adding that his success in doing so would restore the public’s “much needed” faith in the state insurance firm.

“We must hope that he really gets to the bottom of the seasonal problems in PhilHealth at mabuwag na niya sa wakas ang anumang mga mafia na nandoon,” the lawmaker said.

PhilHealth has been embroiled in fresh allegations of corruption after a sitting board member and a resigned anti-fraud officer claimed that a so-called “mafia” in PhilHealth has allegedly been orchestrating large-scale corruption within the corporation for years.

Right man for the job?

In an earlier interview, Gierran admitted having no experience in dealing with public health.

Under Section 14 of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, the president and CEO of PhilHealth must have “at least seven years of experience in the field of public health, management, finance, and health economics or a combination of any of this expertise.”

Nevertheless, Gierran said he has experience with financial management since he is a certified public accountant.

“PhilHealth can spell the difference between life and death for Filipinos. I give Atty. Gierran the benefit of the doubt under Section 14 of the UHC law, he is qualified given his experience in management as an NBI director and in finance bilang CPA-lawyer,” Hontiveros went on.

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“But if he is the right man for the job is something that he still has to prove,” she added.

Gierran could consider putting up a board of directors composed of public health experts, according to Hontiveros.

“Sinabi niya mismo na hindi siya maalam sa field ng public health so I really hope that he will listen to advise and form a board of public health experts,” she added.

The Senate Committee of the Whole has earlier recommended the filing of malversation as well as graft and corruption charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, resigned PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales and several other top-ranking officials over the PhilHealth fund mess.

The committee’s recommendation was based on the findings of its investigation into alleged anomalies in PhilHealth, which was conducted in August.

Aside from the Senate probe, PhilHealth is also facing separate corruption investigations by the House of Representatives, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, and a high-level task force created by the President and led by the Department of Justice.

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