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Solon to senators opposing special powers to fix PhilHealth: This isn’t a ‘pissing contest’

/ 06:41 PM September 04, 2020
Mike Defensor

This file photo shows Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor during a briefing at the House of Representatives. INQUIRER.net file photo / Noy Morcoso

MANILA, Philippines — “We have not yet formally introduced legislation to be approved by the House and yet they lambast the idea as if they already have a copy of the bill.”

Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said this Friday as he hit senators who are against the idea of granting President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address problems hounding the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

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The lawmaker questioned how senators, following its own inquiry on PhilHealth, noted the “urgent need” for an intensive and extensive review and inspection of the corporation’s financial life, yet “they deny the need for emergency powers for this to be accomplished.”

“The Senate has vigorously investigated PhilHealth on several occasions and is aware of the deep-seated problems that need to be addressed,” Defensor said in a statement.

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According to Defensor, who chairs the House committee on public accounts that led the lower chamber’s investigation on PhilHealth, the emergency powers is “required for the President to have a free hand in re-organizing Philhealth pending investigation.”

“For this purpose, the President may abolish or create offices; split, group, or merge positions, transfer functions, records, and personnel in pursuit of an in-depth investigation and in making PhilHealth more responsive and efficient,” Defensor said.

“The hiring of personnel and/or companies for audit, actuarial, legal and financial purposes can also be undertaken without going through the cumbersome processes of government which may take a year before it can be affected,” he added.

Defensor added that the oversight function given to the Senate and House under the Universal Healthcare Law should be restated to ensure transparency in the actions to be undertaken by the Executive.

“Review can be done on a weekly basis to ensure effectiveness in the reforms and actions undertaken by the executive. Emergency powers are limited in time and not in perpetuity,” Defensor said.

Defensor said the work lawmakers are doing “is not only for us but for the future of our children.”

“Hindi ito pagalingan o pataasan ng ihi [This is not a contest on who is the best or either a pissing contest],” Defensor said.

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Earlier, leaders in the upper chamber such as Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Duterte already has great authority to deal with the issues within PhilHealth, that giving him emergency powers to solve corruption issues in the agency would no longer be necessary.

“There is no use for emergency powers. We will oppose it in the Senate. The President can reform and reorganize PhilHealth without emergency powers from Congress,” Drilon said in a statement.

“The President has vast power under the Constitution and existing laws to reorganize and solve corruption in PhilHealth,” he also pointed out.

Sotto, meanwhile, said he would have to look at the proposal from the House panel regarding the kind of power it intends to give the Chief Executive.

“Anything that they would want the President to do he can do now, even without the emergency powers, that is what we believe, so we would rather look at what their proposal is, anong klaseng emergency powers ang ibibigay pa, idadagdag mo, na hindi niya kayang gawin ngayon?” Sotto said in an interview over CNN Philippines.

(What kind of emergency powers are we going to give, that we will add, which he can’t do right now?)

JPV
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TAGS: Drilon, Mike Defensor, Philhealth, PhilHealth corruption, Sotto, special powers
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