Gordon may seek Gierranâs removal as PhilHealth chief
“The law says they must pay. If they don’t pay, change him (Gierran). If he cannot handle it, change him,” Sen. Richard Gordon told “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News channel last Wednesday night.
Geremy Pintolo, file
Gordon may seek Gierran’s removal as PhilHealth chief
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - October 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Richard Gordon, who also chairs the Philippine Red Cross, warned he would seek the removal of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president Dante Gierran if the state insurer fails to pay its P500-million arrears to the PRC by tomorrow.

“The law says they must pay. If they don’t pay, change him (Gierran). If he cannot handle it, change him,” Gordon told “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News channel last Wednesday night.

He was referring to PhilHealth’s unpaid debt to the PRC for its COVID-19 testing.

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman also threatened to dig deeper into the various anomalies in PhilHealth until the debt is settled.

He said PhilHealth violated the contract providing that it shall pay within three days after the PRC completed the COVID tests for government clients.

“Can you imagine it went up to P1.1 billion because for 50 days they never paid anything? The P100-million revolving fund, they gave it only once,” Gordon said.

He said Gierran even sought the opinion of the Departments of Budget and Management (DBM) and of Justice (DOJ), both of which stated that the agreement “does not suffer from any legal infirmities.”

“How dare these people of PhilHealth, which is the repository of a lot of crimes, greed and corruption, say that there’s a defect in the contract, when the DOJ says it’s aboveboard,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He said Gierran seems to be afraid of taking responsibility and suffering the same fate as his predecessors who were removed from their posts because of the “mafia inside the agency.”

“If you don’t want to take a risk then don’t accept the position, the title takes with you a responsibility that you have to accept,” said Gordon, adding that being new in the post is not a valid reason for Gierran’s failure to resolve the matter.

The senator warned that Gierran’s refusal to pay PhilHealth’s financial obligations to the PRC could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases and stricter lockdowns nationwide.

He emphasized that the PRC did not volunteer to conduct the tests, but the government requested for PRC’s laboratory services upon learning that it had the facilities to conduct an average of 13,000 to as many as 16,000 tests a day.

The PRC even put up testing machines in missionary areas as requested by the government and offered the COVID test at the lowest price of P3,500, he said. The going rate for the same test in other private laboratories ranges from P5,000 to as high as P20,000.

Gordon said the PRC complied with all the provisions of the agreement, but the PhilHealth did not.

He said PhilHealth has the capability to pay and must show good faith by doing so, but that it’s obvious that PhilHealth is just delaying payment to the detriment of the Filipino people and the country.

He said he has agreed to accommodate Gierran’s request for a meeting to discuss “fine-tuning” of the process, if necessary.

However, Gordon said he has investigated the different anomalies in PHilHealth and will submit his report to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who heads the newly created task force investigating corruption in the government.

He said he would rather not pursue a legal case against PhilHealth, but would not hesitate to conduct a further Senate investigation on anomalies in the state-run firm if the debt is not settled by tomorrow. – Christina Mendez

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