Defensor: Raps vs Duque over PhilHealth mess may range from negligence to graft
MANILA, Philippines — The recommended case against Health Secretary Francisco Duque over the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) could range from gross negligence to graft, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said Wednesday.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Defensor said this was based on the report approved by the House committee on public accounts and the committee on good government and public accountability following the series of hearings conducted to investigate the alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.
Defensor chairs the committee on public accounts.
“[The range] would be from gross negligence to actual graft,” Defensor said when asked about the House panels’ recommended cases against Duque.
One of the issues tackled during the investigation was the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) of the PhilHealth.
IRM is an emergency cash advance measure of PhilHealth to provide hospitals with an emergency fund to respond to natural disasters, calamities as well as other unexpected events.
Duque has previously said that he was not among those who signed the IRM policy, a claim that Defensor believes.
“’Yun nga lang, sana nga lang when we were already discussing it, binago na nila agad. We were the ones to even insist na huwag niyong ilabas itong pondo, huwag niyong ilabas itong P14 billion, huwag na kayong magdagdag pa diyan at huwag niyong ilagay yung probable and suspected cases,” Defensor said.
(I was hoping that when we were discussing it, they’ve immediately changed it. We were the ones to even insist do not release the fund, do not release the P14 billion, do not put more into that and don’t put probable and suspected cases.)
“If not for the committee hearings conducted by the Senate and Congress, baka mamaya naubos na naman yung P50 billion ng PhilHealth, kawawa na naman ang institusyon, and in the end, yung mga taong dapat makikinabang sa PhilHealth programs,” he added.
(If not for the committee hearings conducted by the Senate and Congress, PhilHealth’s P50 billion should have been gone by now, I feel sorry for the institution, and in the end the people who should get benefits from PhilHealth.)
Nonetheless, Defensor backed President Rodrigo Duterte in saying that Duque is not involved in corruption in PhilHealth.
“I would support the President on that. Kasi even if you look at the cases na nakapila natin dito, even doon sa Senate report, wala namang sinabing nagnakaw siya, wala namang sinabi na may pera siyang kinuha, including the members of the board,” Defensor said.
(Because even if you look at the cases lined up here, even in the Senate report, nothing that would say he stole money, including the members of the board.)
Due to this, Defensor said that the House panels recommended that the charges to be filed against PhilHealth’s executive committee and the insurance agency’s board members be separate depending on the issue.
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