Duterte to PhilHealth, gov’t agencies: Don’t be afraid to spend funds as long as you follow rules

Published April 13, 2021, 12:30 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte encouraged Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and other government agencies not to be afraid to spend money on the procurement of vital goods and services during the pandemic.

President Rodrigo Duterte

In a televised address Monday, April 12, the President, however, reminded government officials to follow the government’s rules on procurement of goods to avoid trouble.

“I am addressing my advice to all of you. Basta ginawa lang ninyo para sa bayan at maglagay ng demarcation line doon sa panahon na kayo when you took over, tapos magsabi kayo na dito ako mag-umpisa, tapos gawin mo trabaho mo (Just do it for the nation. Put a demarcation line when you took over, declare when you started, then do your job),” he said.

“Do not be afraid to spend money because that is really intended to be spent. Kaya nga natin nilalagay sa budget para gastusin. Huwag kayong matakot magastos (That’s why we put it in the budget to be spent. Don’t be afraid to spend it). Just follow rules,” he added.

Duterte said he was willing to defend the concerned government officials as long as their transactions were justified and lawful.

 He noted that government officials planning to purchase certain goods may also send him a letter to justify their procurement plans.

“Nandiyan ako sa likod ninyo (I am behind you) and I will vouch for you if the transaction is legal and right. But if it is wrong and there is money involved, p*** i** magkakagulo tayo diyan (son of b*** we will have trouble there),” he said.

The President also addressed the issue of fund disbursement at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

He said he told PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran not to skimp on fund allocations that will help people, especially during the pandemic.

“Sabi ko kay Gierran. Huwag kang magtipid. Hindi ito panahon ng pagtipid. Ilarga mo lahat ng kailangan ng tao. Maski hindi pa kailangan, lagay mo lang diyan tutal aabot din ‘yan (I told Gierran, do not be frugal. This is not the time to be thrifty. Use the funds to address the needs of the people. Even if it not yet needed, just allocate the funds since it will eventually be use),” he said.

The President recently asked PhilHealth to expand its health coverage for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients to help them with their medical expenses.

As the country’s cases of coronavirus continued to rise in recent days, the Palace announced that Duterte wanted the state health corporation to shoulder expenses on reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, isolation, as well as hospitalization of those with mild and severe symptoms.

 PhilHealth must also cover the expenses of patients confined in tents set up outside hospitals.

The state corporation has also been directed to hasten the settlement of claims made by hospitals to ensure the uninterrupted operations of these health facilities during the pandemic.