Drilon expresses disappointment over De Jesus’ appointment as PhilHealth OIC

Published August 29, 2020, 10:52 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned on Friday the designation of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) executive vice president Arnel de Jesus as officer-in-charge of the agency amid the controversies in the state insurer.

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon said he was “deeply disappointed” about De Jesus’ appointment as he recalled his involvement in the assailed Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) of PhilHealth.

“As PhilHealth’s Chief Operation Officer, he implemented the questionable IRM. It must be remembered that he was the one who kept justifying the download of IRM funds to non-COVID-19 hospitals such as dialysis and maternity clinics. His actions and poor professional judgment were so evident during the hearings of the Committee of the Whole on PhilHealth,” Drilon said in a statement.

Drilon said it was De Jesus who said that the liquidation of the IRM releases are “optional” contrary to the rules of the Commission on Audit.

He added the PhilHealth official also signed the “illegal liquidation memorandum circular which gave too much discretion to regional directors, which resulted in this financial mess and corruption.”

De Jesus was assigned as interim head of PhilHealth following the resignation of Ricardo Morales, who was asked as president and chief executive officer.

“There is nothing from his past actions that could justify this decision of the PhilHealth Board to appoint de Jesus. I am extremely concerned about how the Board picked De Jesus,” Drilon said.

Drilon said with De Jesus at the helm of PhilHealth, “it is going to be the same old story of corruption and incompetence.”

“What PhilHealth needs now is a cleansing process. We need someone with unblemished credibility, with zero tolerance for corruption and with high regard for accountability,” Drilon said, “of which Mr. de Jesus really fell short and is really unqualified. He is not the right man to lead PhilHealth,” he pointed out.

Drilon maintained that the President should be authorized by law to reorganize PhilHealth to finally rid the corporation of corruption. He said the government should strictly observe the “fit and proper” rule in appointing officials to PhilHealth.

He said the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), as the mandated governing body for government corporations, “must actively and decisively perform its mandate as a central advisory, monitoring and oversight body of PhilHealth.”

The GCG should identify the necessary skills and qualifications required for appointive directors to the PhilHealth, and consider the suitability and qualifications of the candidates before submitting its recommendations to the President, he said.

“The officials must be chosen based on their integrity, experience, education, training and competence, among others. It should be led by someone with excellent background in finance and management,” Drilon said.