PhilHealth employees call for health insurance expert as caretaker as execs face probe
This undated photo shows members lining up for PhilHealth benefits at an unnamed hospital.
The STAR/File
PhilHealth employees call for health insurance expert as caretaker as execs face probe
(Philstar.com) - August 9, 2020 - 1:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte should put a health insurance expert as an interm caretaker for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., the state firm's rank-and-file union said Sunday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should "take a back seat" on the investigation into alleged irregularities at PhilHealth, it also said.

The statement comes after the Senate and a newly-formed  "Task Force Philhealth" hold separate inquiries into the state insurance firm.

In a statement shared by labor center Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, the PhilHealth Workers for Hope, Integrity, Transparency and Empowerment (PhilHealth-WHITE) said it welcomed the justice department's investigation into alleged multibillion-peso fraud.

"With the leave of absence of two of our most senior officers, and the resignation of one, we nonetheless call for President Duterte to put in charge a caretaker who is an expert in the field of health insurance with proven integrity and incorruptibility — someone who is not himself or herself under investigation. Someone devoid of vested interest...by doing so, all doubts about whitewashing and cover-up would be dispelled, and we would therefore be ensured of a fair and honest investigation that will weed out the guilty and not simply hang scapegoats," the union's statement read. 

"PhilHealth-WHITE cannot be subservient to executives whose integrity is in question. The Chairperson of the PhilHealth Board, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque is no exception and should take a back seat being the subject of several investigations," it added. 

PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales, who has defended an allegedly overpriced IT system for the state fiem , and PhilHealth Executive vice president and COO Arnel De Jesus have notified the Senate that they will not be attending the chamber's second hearing because of medical issues.

Malacañang on Wednesday said that President Duterte would not immediately fire the Morales until he has evidence of corruption. He has, however, ordered the Department of Justoice to form a task force to investigate the allegations.

Philhealth-WHITE also said the allegations and accusations "bombarding" the company for the past few days "have taken a toll on the mental and emotional health of the ordinary rank-and-file employees."

"We are angry, confused, demoralized, polarized and divided by all the issues and accusations hurled to and fro and the almost daily developments in the news," it said.

"The reactions of our countrymen, whether fair or not, whether informed or not, indicate that they care enough about the welfare of social health insurance. No one wants their contributions to be in vain. No one among the tens of millions who have availed of their benefits want to see us shut our doors. In they end, they too want to see justice served."

The PhilHealth workers said they welcome the creation of the DOJ-led task force as well as audits and lifestyle checks thaat they hope "will flush out the corrupt from among us and vindicate the honest and hardworking officers and employees."

Robredo calls for suspension of execs 

In her weekly radio show on Sunday morning, Vice President Leni Robredo also called for the suspension of the agency's executives, saying this would allow investigators to conduct a more thorough probe into the issues being held against it. 

"It would be better to have a suspension to allow investigators to do look into the issue more thoroughly...I hope authorities do that to show that we are serious about fighting corruption. Because the officials who hold the documents are still there," she said in Filipino. 

"Don't we have anti-corruption bodies? Weren't they supposed to snuff these things out? Especially so that the situation would not have worsened to this point?" — Franco Luna 

BUKLURAN NG MANGGAWANG PILIPINO HEALTH SECRETARY FRANCISCO DUQUE PHILHEALTH RICARDO MORALES
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