EDITORIAL - PhilHealth housecleaning
EDITORIAL - PhilHealth housecleaning
(The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2020 - 12:00am

With howls of protest heard from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Malacañang gave assurance yesterday that the 177-page report submitted by a task force formed to investigate alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is just preliminary.

The statement was issued as the task force led by the Department of Justice recommended the filing of a long list of criminal and administrative charges against former and incumbent senior PhilHealth officials led by resigned president and CEO Ricardo Morales. The task force, however, spared Health Secretary and PhilHealth ex officio chairman Francisco Duque III, instead recommending that he be “strongly admonished” for administrative lapses.

Morales has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying that history would be his judge even as he defended his actions at the helm of the state health insurer. Duque has also maintained his innocence in the corruption scandals that have swirled around PhilHealth, pointing out that he never signed or approved any of the actions and contracts that were investigated by the task force as well as the two chambers of Congress. President Duterte has repeatedly expressed his trust and confidence in Duque amid calls for the resignation of the secretary of health.

The top ranks of PhilHealth would be decimated once the charges recommended by the task force are filed before the Office of the Ombudsman. Replacing the embattled officials, most of them members of the PhilHealth executive committee, should pave the way for a thorough and long overdue housecleaning in the scandal-hit agency.

Personnel changes must be complemented by structural reforms that will plug opportunities for corruption, malversation and other forms of misusing public funds. PhilHealth has been grappling with corruption scandals long before the COVID pandemic. It’s time for a genuine housecleaning and a new way of doing business in PhilHealth.

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