By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte may look for other capable persons to implement the country’s Universal Health Care (UHC) Law if the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) officials cannot do their job, Malacañang declared Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque raised the possible scenario after branding as illegal any plan to delay in the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act supposedly due to the limited PhilHealth funds.
The country’s universal health law can actually be sustained using government funds and implemented by competent individuals if needed, according to Roque.
“Ang akin panawagan sa namumuno ng PhilHealth, kung hindi niyo maipapatupad ang batas na sinertify urgent ng Presidente mismo, dahil ang nais niya magkaroon ng libreng gamot ang lahat ng Pilipino gaya ng ginawa niya sa Davao, eh siguro po hahanap na lang ng iba na pupwedeng magpatupad niyan. (My appeal to the leadership of PhilHealth is if you cannot implement the law that was certified as urgent by the President because he wants to give free medicines to all Filipinos like in Davao, then maybe we should look for others who can implement the law),” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
When asked if he was warning PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales of possible removal, Roque said: “I’m not warning. It’s just that it is the law that has to be implemented.”
Roque assured that public that the government is prepared to spend funds to sustain the implementation of the program to help people get access to healthcare amid the public health emergency.
“Kung kinakailangang tustusan galing sa kaban ng bayan, tutustusan po ‘yan. ‘Yan po talaga ang central feature ng Universal Health Care Law. Hindi ito ordinaryong medical insurance (If it needs to funded from the national coffers, then it will be provided. That is the central feature of the universal health care law. This is not an ordinary medical insurance),” he said.
Morales, in a recent congressional hearing, called for a delay in the implementation of the universal health care law due to dwindling revenues amid the pandemic. He claimed that the agency was trying to conserve its resources due to lower contribution payments during the quarantine period.
Roque however disputed Morales’ proposal to defer the UHC implementaiton.
“Ito po ay labag sa literal probisyon ng batas at doon sa intensyon ng mga nagsulong ng batas na ito (This is a violation of the literal provision of the law and the intention of the proponents of this law),” said Roque, author of the universal health care bill in the House of Representatives when he was a lawmaker.
He said they knew the PhilHealth premiums will not sufficiently cover the universal healthcare law so if the program needs additional funding, the government will give support.
Earlier, Roque raised the alarm about the billions of funds allegedly lost to corruption in PhilHealth. He has slammed Morales for allegedly failing to investigate and hold accountable officials involved in the alleged fund anomalies since he was appointed to the post last year. He said Morales must not a turn a deaf ear to the corruption allegations and instead help clean up the agency.
Morales, reacting to Roque’s latest statement, said the presidential spokesman should file cases in court instead if he has proof of supposed corruption.
Roque however suggested that the PhilHealth head can conduct administrative probe on suspected erring officials in the state-run health corporation.