Palace: Only honest PhilHealth workers will be retained if it is abolished

Published September 30, 2020, 12:02 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Only the honest Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) workers may be retained in case the state corporation is abolished and a new agency is created, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Roque said the abolition of PhilHealth as proposed by President Duterte aims to hasten the removal of the corrupt officials in the state health insurer.  

“Wala pong magbabago, mga mukha lang, matatanggal lang po ang korapsyon kapag nabuwag at bumuo ng bagong organisasyon na gaganap din ng ginagawa po ng PhilHealth (Nothing will change except for the faces. Corruption will be eliminated once it is abolished and a new organization is created that will continue the function of PhilHealth),” Roque said during a press briefing Tuesday.

The President still believes that many PhilHealth personnel remains honest despite the anomalies besetting the state corporation, according to Roque.

“Iyong mga matitino naman po, wala kayong dapat alalahanin dahil alam naman po ng Presidente kung sino talaga ang bulok at sino ang matino. At naninindigan pa rin ang Presidente na marami pa rin pong mga mabubuting mga manggagawa ng gobyerno diyan po sa PhilHealth (To those who are upright, you don’t have to worry because the President knows who are the corrupt and who are honest. The President still believes there are many good government employees in PhilHealth),” he said.

Roque said he called for the creation of the National Health Service that will replace PhilHealth under the universal health care bill he filed when he was a lawmaker.

He said the bill included the “screening” of PhilHealth personnel to retain those who are not corrupt when the new health agency is formed. These honest workers are those who are not facing any corruption cases, he added.

At present, Roque said government workers with civil service eligibility can only be removed after going through due process.

“Pero iyong problema po talaga sa PhilHealth, talagang masyado na pong systemic iyong problema, napakadami nilang dapat tanggalin, napaka-pervasive po ng influence nila, kaya iniisip ni Presidente baka mas mabuting i-abolish and start from scratch (But the problem in PhilHealth is very systemic, many should be removed, their influence has become very pervasive so the President thinks it is better to abolish and start from scratch),” he said.

“Kapag na-abolish na iyan ay pupuwede nang mas madaling magtanggal, kung mayroong bahid ng korapsyon (Once it is abolished, it will be easier to remove those who are involved in corruption),” he said.

Addressing the nation Monday night, the President announced plans to ask Congress to abolish PhilHealth as a “surgical move” to address corruption in the state firm. Duterte said a new agency could be created “out of the ruins of that old one.”

The President had earlier endorsed the filing of complaints against several top PhilHealth officials over alleged anomalies. He previously said he wanted the corrupt public servants to be thrown in jail.

Roque said the President has given PhilHealth president Dante Gierran until December “to fix up the mess” in the health corporation.  If this cannot be done by then, Roque said PhilHealth could be dismantled through a legislation to hasten the removal of the “rotten” officials.

“Kinakailangan talaga tanggalin ang mga bulok diyan sa PhilHealth at kung hindi talaga magawa iyan by December, well kinakailangan ng batas para buwagin po iyan at palitan ng bago (There is really a need to remove the rotten ones in PhilHealth and if it cannot be done by December, well a law is needed to abolish it and replace it with a new one),” he said.