Prosecute now
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - August 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Senate President Sen. Tito Sotto has terminated the investigation on corruption, anomalies, and irregularities in PhilHealth after three Senate sessions because they have "had enough of the carousel of lies and changing statements from the PhilHealth officials." “Enough is enough,” he adds. The Ombudsman has already acted to suspend some former and current PhilHealth officials. I was surprised that former PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer was made an assistant secretary in the Department of Health after being forced to resign due to the ghost dialysis scam. Proof that President Duterte recycles errant officials.

But many senators want President Duterte to fire PhilHealth's top officials including President Ricardo Morales and Senior Vice Presidents Renato Limsiaco Jr. and Jovita Aragona. The Ombudsman has not suspended them. And, of course, DOH Sec. Francisco Duque is safe in his position even though the agency he leads is being racked by corruption. Note that Duque was also the DOH secretary during the Gloria Arroyo administration when the five million free health cards were distributed right before the 2004 election. An issue that has resurfaced, not doing any favors to Duque

Senator Miguel Zubiri said he couldn't help but hurl invectives. Senator Bong Go wants the fingers of corrupt officials cut, I guess ala yakuza style. But what everyone should hear are the comments of the members from which the funds are sourced. Some are now questioning why they should continue paying PhilHealth if it just goes to corruption. Good point. We hear statements that the agency is dying and will not last this year or that year due to a lack of funds so members are asking what happens if they get sick. Will there still be funds to cover their medical expenses as is their right as a member?

I hope Duterte acts to crack down on high-ranking officials, especially if there is evidence of corruption or irregularities and not just a whiff. Hopefully, the positions vacated by those suspended or have gone on leave are filled by competent, trustworthy people willing to right what is left of PhilHealth, and not just more friends or retired military or police officers. Many PhilHealth employees are asking for them not to be judged. Perhaps. Perhaps the vacated positions should be filled with career PhilHealth staff who know how to run the agency. It is time for PhilHealth to turn a leaf and prove to the people it is there when needed and not just line the pockets of corrupt officials, favorite hospitals, or doctors. People would also want to start seeing corrupt officials prosecuted and not just suspended. And it is time to replace Duque who often seems controversial.

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