Duterte wants overhaul of PhilHealth under Gierran

Published August 31, 2020, 9:47 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte has named former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran as the new president of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) as investigations on the supposed corruption activities in the agency continue.

Former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran (Twitter)

Duterte made the announcement during his late-night public address on the new COVID-19 quarantine classifications.

In his speech, Duterte reminded Gierran, who was present during the meeting in Malacañang, that the remaining two years of his administration will be devoted to the fight against corruption. He told the new PhilHealth president to look for people they can send to jail.

“Maghanap kayo ng mapakulong natin para may maiwan tayo sa kulungan (Look for people we can imprison so we can leave someone behind bars),” he said Monday evening.

President Duterte likewise ordered Gierran to sack all Philhealth regional vice presidents whether they are good performers or not.

“I want to see a reshuffle of the regional offices within the next two or three days… Yung lahat ng mga regional vice presidents tanggalin ninyo (Remove all regional vice presidents)–whether performing, at par, or in parity with the other good ones,” he said.

“You know if they are there for so long a time, the element of familiarity always enters the picture. ‘Yan ang mahirap diyan (That’s the problem),” he added.

Duterte said those who refused to be removed from their post will be moved to Malacañang instead.

“I will send them a memorandum. I will ask them to report to me dito sa Malacañang,” he said.

“I will ask them to do research on how not to serve a government properly. That should be the thesis–how not to serve the government properly. You study on that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte said that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is wrapping up his investigation on the supposed corrupt practices at PhilHealth.

“I think he has seen proof enough to come up with an indictment,” he said.

“I hope this sad episode in our national life, in our journey towards nation-building will be somehow corrected,” he added.

President Duterte placed Gierran in PhilHealth after he accepted the resignation of Ricardo Morales. Morales stepped down due to health reasons amid investigations on the corruption in PhilHealth.

Gierran was among the first people to join Duterte’s Cabinet when the former Davao City mayor won the presidency in 2016.

He is also the first-ever certified public accountant-lawyer to become the NBI director. During his stint, Gierran avoided the media as much as he could.

In a press briefing, Duterte said he told Gierran that he will put him at the NBI if the latter promises to personally “kill” any agent who would be caught spreading drugs.

Gierran, who served as Davao regional director of the NBI, retired from his post as NBI director early this year. He was replaced by assistant director Eric Distor.

In 2016, Edgar Matobato, a man who claimed to be working for the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS), linked Gierran to the killing of a man in 2007 during a Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee hearing.

Matobato said their target was a suspected kidnapper. He said the target was taken from Sarangani Province and brought to Davao del Sur where he was eventually killed.

Gierran has denied Matobato’s claim, saying Matobato probably had a hidden agenda for implicating him.