A no-nonsense public servant for more than 40 years, SENATOR PANFILO “PING” MORENA LACSON has been circumspect in matters of public interest and committed against various forms of corruption and wrongdoing, in line with his personal credo: “Ang tama, ipaglaban. Ang mali, labanan. (What is right must be kept right. What is wrong must be set right).”
Lacson first earned a tough, no-nonsense reputation while serving in the Philippine National Police: solving high-profile crimes including kidnap-for-ransom cases in the 1980s and 1990s; and reviving the PNP’s glory days as Chief, PNP from 1999 to 2001.
In the Senate, Lacson is an untiring, tenacious watchdog of the national budget, making sure dubious congressional insertions (a.k.a. pork barrel) and useless appropriations are checked and deleted during plenary debates. More about Senator Lacson here.
Their failure to attend Tuesday’s hearing is their loss, not the Senate’s, simply because they won’t be there to respond to new issues to be brought up by resource persons and some new incriminating documents in our possession.
Having said that, I wish PhilHealth President-CEO Morales well in his fight against the Big C. In all sincerity, I join his family in praying for his recovery. It is unfortunate that these new corruption issues have exploded at a time when his health condition is at a low point.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the government in a very precarious situation as in a tightrope-like balancing act between health and economic issues, which presents a no win-all situation.
That is why it is revolting to discover so much unabated corruption in PhilHealth involving billions that could have been put into good use in adequately addressing at least the issue of health.
Having said that, I would like to believe, as often expressed by the country’s economic managers, that we continue to benefit from our strong economic fundamentals which can pull us through this crisis, until such time that a vaccine that has guaranteed efficacy is finally developed to address the pandemic.
Recent developments have given us a sneak peek into the extent of corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I thus pose this challenge to the corrupt elements in PhilHealth: Declare a moratorium on corruption, at least during the pandemic. Who knows, they might actually learn that it feels good not to be corrupt, and thus develop an aversion to corruption.
Having said that, I also encourage those in PhilHealth who fight corruption in their own little way – the officials and rank-and-file who continue to provide information and documents – not to tire of blowing the whistle on corruption, even if we may not immediately see the results of their acts.
A corruption-free – and more importantly, corruption-averse – PhilHealth will not only ensure much-needed health benefits for all Filipinos in the long run. In the immediate term, it will ease the concerns of lawmakers, myself included, that the budget we pass for PhilHealth to do its job will not be lost to greed.
In an interview with Senate media, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* PhilHealth officials evasive answers at Senate hearing
* Security concerns of prospective witnesses
* Gen. Morales, misled o co-opted?
And for good reason. PhilHealth is a murky, stinking swamp that many of its good and well-meaning people from the officials to their rank-and-file employees want drained, not just of some corrupt but well-entrenched officials who do not seem to run out of malevolent schemes to enrich themselves, but of a deeply rooted, mafia-like syndicate that controls the resources of the corporation, and habitually manipulate its financial records, that even the COA seems helpless in the conduct of their regular audit.
If we look closely enough, the story only revolves around the same cast of characters – a circle of high-ranking officials who manage to hog their seats despite the change of leadership and detailed anomalies that we already unearthed in the past.
In an interview with Senate media, Sen. Lacson answers questions on: * Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on corruption at PhilHealth on Aug. 4
* Calls for DOH Secretary Duque’s resignation
* Medical frontliners’ plight
The request of health workers to place Mega Manila under ECQ for at least two weeks is a valid request that Malacañang should seriously consider. Putting human lives above all considerations is a no-brainer, given the choice.
Having said that, some adjustments can be made in the distribution of government subsidy to the most basic necessities of those who need it the most.
What is important is to prevent an obvious pattern of upsurge in the daily coronavirus infection.
I would say, the syndicate is back with a vengeance – or at least its core group has never left.
It is revolting to see the PhilHealth mafia very much active and still in control of the already depleted resources of the agency, made worse by blatant manipulation of its financial statements. They must have mastered the art of influence-peddling as they seem to continue to gain access to the “corridors of power.”