‘Too cautious:’ Gordon says PhilHealth chief ‘afraid’ to speed up payment of P1.1-B debt to PRC
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president Dante Gierran is being “too cautious” to speed up the agency’s payment of its over P1-billion debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Senator Richard Gordon said Tuesday.
Gordon surmised Gierran is cautious because he is afraid that he would be subjected to possible investigations in the future relating to the release of PhilHealth funds.
“Maybe he (Gierran) just wants to be relieved. Baka hindi nya kaya, nagmamatigas ulo niya,” the senator told reporters in an interview.
(Maybe he wants to be relieved because he could no longer do it. That’s why he’s stubborn.)
“Ang narinig kong sinasabi niya—hearsay ito a—‘Pag umalis ang presidente, bagong administrasyon, e ‘di ako ang iimbestigahan? E ‘di dapat sobrang ingat ako.’ Sobrang ngang ingat para sa kanya (Gierran), sobra namang reckless sa mga tao na hindi mate-test,” Gordon added.
(What I’m hearing is–this is hearsay–‘If the President steps down from office and a new administration takes over, I could be investigated, so I have to be really cautious.’ He was really cautious but his action would be too reckless for the people who are not getting tested.)
Gierran also showed he was “obstinate” when he supposedly refused to immediately pay PhilHealth’s balance to the PRC under a COVID-19 testing deal despite prodding from several executive officials, according to the senator.
“[He has] an unexplainable attitude of being recalcitrant,” Gordon said of Gierran, who was appointed to head embattled PhilHealth just last August.
“I really had a lot of respect for him. I’m totally perplexed why he’s acting this way,” the senator added.
Gierran replaced former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales, who, among several other officials, is now facing a case over the alleged questionable release of the agency’s funds.
“Ito, panibagong mundo. [Gierran is] like a new guy on the block surrounded by all kinds of snakes and jackals and hyenas. Natatakot siya, natatakot siyang gumalaw,” Gordon went on.
(This is a new world for him. He’s like a new guy on the block surrounded by all kinds of snakes and jackals and hyenas. He’s afraid. He’s afraid to move around.)
“I think natatakot siya kung sino ang pagtitiwalaan niya and mahirap talaga ‘yon,” he added.
(He’s cautious about who to trust, and that’s hard.)
“’Di ka dapat matakot (You should not be scared). Fear is just an excuse. When you take a job, an oath, you do everything you can,” Gordon advised the PhilHealth chief.
Gordon said he, Gierran, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and testing czar Vince Dizon already met last week through a video conference to discuss PhilHealth’s debt to PRC for the test the latter conducted for the government.
He added that he was informed that a cheque has already been readied since yesterday but has yet to be signed.
“Binigay na daw yung cheque kahapon ‘di lang napirmahan. I don’t what that means,” Gordon said.
(A cheque is already ready since yesterday but it has yet to be signed. I don’t know what that means.)
PhilHealth earlier vowed to pay its debt to PRC on Monday but Gordon said the state insurer has yet to settle it as they promised.
Since October 15, the PRC stopped conducting tests on arriving overseas Filipino workers, passengers in airports and seaports, individuals needing COVID-19 tests in government swabbing facilities, front-line health and government workers, and others in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health.
PhilHealth has “a lot of money,” the PRC chair pointed out.
“Either nag-iingat masyado to the point of stupidity—it’s absurd—or somebody’s getting a free pass,” he said.
(Either they’re really being too careful to the point of stupidity–it’s absurd–or somebody’s getting a free pass.)
He believes that the PRC’s lack of testing for the government has “opened opportunities” for private laboratories, which he said would supposedly price their test way more than what the humanitarian organization charges at P3,500 per test. [ac]
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