Gordon’s Blue Ribbon Committee report names Garin, PhilHealth vice presidents, as behind irregularities

Published August 25, 2020, 6:02 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee released today its report concluding that the questionable multi-billion-peso barangay health center program during the tenure of Congresswoman Janette Garin, then the Department of Health (DOH) secretary, was linked to the 2016 presidential election.          

Senator Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

 ‘’That is my conclusion,’’ Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, told reporters on the actions of Garin before the 2016 elections as he released his committee report that covered irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) covering the past several years.         

Garin was then concurrent ex-officio PhilHealth Board chairman.       

On reports that President Duterte vowed to focus the last remaining few years of his presidency in ridding corruption in government, Gordon said: ‘’The proof of the pudding is in the eating.’’        

Gordon released this afternoon a voluminous committee report on widespread corruption at PhilHealth, saying corruption was not concentrated only at the top but to the many regional vice presidents who were ‘’kings to themselves’’ as they sit in their posts the past 20 years.        

These regional vice presidents, according to Gordon, ‘’have their own kingdoms and are more powerful that the senior vice presidents at the central office.”       

He said his committee hearings were conducted last year and is separate from the just concluded public hearings by the Senate Committee of the Whole that ended last week.         

He said Garin could be charged with corrupt practices, technical malversation and entering, on behalf of the government, contracts disadvantageous to the government.            

Gordon said of the 3,000 barangay health centers programmed for construction, only less than 300 health centers were built ‘’to show you are doing something.’’         

Garin had been questioned on the controversial 2015 purchase of the French-made Dengvaxia vaccine during the Noynoy Aquino presidency and before the start of the presidential election where the presidential bet of Aquino’s Liberal Party was Manuel ‘’Mar’’ Roxas II.       

 The Gordon committee also cited former Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad for his role in funding the questionable construction of barangay health center projects.        

Aside from Garin and Abad, Gordon said former PhilHealth Chief Alexander Padilla should also be accused of graft over P10.6 billion premiums from senior citizens for the construction of DOH projects.      

 ‘’She (Garin) has to answer. Nothing personal,’’ Gordon said.     

Gordon said he would be giving a copy of his committee report to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for possible transmission to President Duterte.       

 He also said that he would be routing his committee  report to his colleagues in the Senate, particularly Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III.        

Likewise, Gordon said he would be transmitting a copy of his report to the Malacanang-created Task Force headed by Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra to run after erring PhilHealth officials who were also investigate by the Senate Committee of the Whole.       

 He also urged the Office of the Ombudsman to put in jail the guilty because people would violate the law when they not see anyone being jailed.       

Gordon said Health Secretary Francisco Duque should explain to the Ombudsman for the lease of a Duque family-owned property to PhilHealth.       

 A Duque family-owned pharmaceutical firm also had a medicine supply contract with the DOH.             

  Gordon said his committee uncovered highly irregular overpayments for pneumonia, diabetes, caesarian operations and other ailments.        

He estimated that the erring PhilHealth officials pocketed at least 20 percent of the graft money and such overpayments made some favored hospitals rich.                  

 Among the recommendations of the Gordon committee report include:

1. Passage of a law reorganizing the PhilHealth and the immediate removal of the regional vice presidents or relocate them to prevent collusion
2. Creation of a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)- on line modality and verification system.
3. Establishment of a monitoring group.
4. Creation of an Anti-Fraud Detection unit at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), patterned after a Federal Bureau of Investigation (VBI) unit.
5. There should be one doctor, one record, one patient conforming with the Data Privacy Act.
6. Vetting of all contractors.
7. Creation of a system for an independent insurance adjusters.