[Video Courtesy: Senate PRIB]
At the hearing on irregularities at the DOH and PhilHealth, Sen. Lacson presented contracts entered into by a firm owned by the family of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III with the NCMH , as well as a contract between PhilHealth’s Region 1 office and another Duque family-owned firm , during the secretary’s incumbency.
Lacson also cited information on other irregularities such as overcharging by PhilHealth, as well as the rediscounting of claims, which is rampant in Eastern Visayas.
Yet, Lacson noted PhilHealth is one of the top GOCCs in terms of subsidies from the government. “Pinakamalaking subsidized ng gobyerno and PhilHealth. And here we are, hearing so many anomalies, monies going to the pockets of a few. Hindi ba nakakagalit yan?”
Related: ‘Namatay Na, Naningil Pa!’ Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Hearing on DOH, PhilHealth Corruption
QUOTES and NOTES:
Sen. Lacson recalled that in the last Senate hearing, Sec. Duque’s brother Cesar testified that the Secretary instructed his relatives not to transact with the government while he is in office.
But Lacson presented a Notice of Award for the Duque family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. with the National Center for Mental Health, an agency under the DOH, while Francisco Duque III was already DOH secretary. The contract worth P119,400 had an Award Date of Dec. 3, 2018, Proceed Date of Jan. 28, 2019, and is effective from Jan. 28, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.
Secretary Duque took his oath of office as DOH Secretary in November 2017.
“Ang end user nito, National Center for Mental Health. And the NCMH is under DOH. So it means your brother violated your instructions,” Sen. Lacson told Sec. Duque, who said he is “not aware of any of this,” and would talk to his brother. Sen. Lacson replied: “Please. If this persists, hindi maganda tingnan. I will give you the benefit of the doubt na di mo alam ito. But not knowing this should not be an excuse because you are the Secretary of Health.”
Sen. Lacson presented at the hearing a contract for PhilHealth’s Regional Office 1 to lease space in a building owned by the Duque family-owned Educational Medical and Development Corporation (EMDC). The contract was signed by Atty. Rodolfo del Rosario Jr., as Regional Vice President for Region 1, on May 28, 2018.
But del Rosario was already reassigned to Region 11 as early as April 23, 2018. “Between May 2018 and April 23, 2018 more than one month yan. You were no longer assigned… Why sign a contract you are no longer authorized to sign?” Sen. Lacson asked Atty del Rosario, who replied he signed it prior to his reassignment, and that the May 28 date was the date the contract was notarized.
Meanwhile, Dr. Celestina Ma. Jude Dela Cerna, interim OIC and CEO, said she was not aware the building was owned by the Duque family, and that she found out through EVP Ruben John Basa. “Medyo nag-isip ako bakit kay Secretary. Secretary siya, siya chairperson ng board. Unknowingly ma-feel mo kay Secretary ito,” she said.
Lacson also cited information on irregularities such as overcharging by PhilHealth, as well as the rediscounting of claims, which is rampant in Eastern Visayas. This involves claims amounting to P100M being bought for just P80M. “That could be why there is a lot of overcharging and overpayment, nawiwili ang nagfi-finance diyan.”