There is no such thing as “Legalized Corruption” in Congress via a concurrent resolution – much less one with my involvement, as claimed by some sectors who are either misinformed or seeking to disinform – or both.
As a background, I was tasked to file the said resolution – Concurrent Resolution No. 10 – which actually sought more accountability by justifying the liquidation of funds through the submission of receipts. Before this, lawmakers had been allowed to liquidate funds merely through certification since Congress reopened in 1987.
Thus, while the Concurrent Resolution allows certification by individual legislators to disburse funds allocated to their respective offices, it does not excuse ANYONE from liquidating through official receipts and other verifiable documents, much less from being audited by the Commission on Audit – as NOBODY in government is exempted from COA audit.
For the record, throughout my years in public service, I have always been consistent in complying with all the existing COA regulations, much more with the required submission of liquidation instruments when I was in the Senate. Thus, when the COA first conducted a special audit of Congress, I was the first one who submitted the receipts and related documents.
From the Inquirer: (A)s pointed out by anti-corruption crusaders like former senator Panfilo Lacson and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, we need infrastructure that is not subject to the corrupt racket that lines the pockets of politicians and their private sector cohorts and which results in substandard projects that need frequent repairs.
I don’t know what President Duterte is talking about when he commented on my hairstyle. I haven’t changed the way I comb my hair, since long before he had lost his mind. But his insulting rebuke only shows that he and Sen. Bong Go are one and the same, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. They even probably have a joint bank account.
Many people I talked to have noticed his incoherence and senseless ad libs even in his formal addresses to the nation including the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
That said, it is not difficult to think that he is in panic mode and is attempting as he has already done earlier to discourage the Senate from pursuing our investigation in the highly anomalous procurement of overpriced medical supplies that is starting to knock on the doors of Malacañang. The video showing Michael Yang, a Chinese national who had a signed contract as a presidential consultant, receiving a one-peso-a-year remuneration from the government and very casually introducing high officials of the controversial Pharmally Corp. is telling to say the least.
But make no mistake. The Senate will not flinch on this one. There is a lot more to discover and pursue so that all those responsible for this abominable crime against the Filipino people who continue to suffer amid the pandemic will be exposed and charged in court at the proper time.
Kailangang maireporma ang pamahalaan para maharap nito ang mga mabibigat na problema kagaya ng pandemya at ang korapsyon.
Ayon kay Senador Panfilo Lacson, dagdag na karapatan para sa mamamayan at makatuwirang paggamit sa maliit nang mapagkukunan ng pantustos ang dapat na maging pagbabago sa pamahalaan.
“As one nation, we must reinvent our bureaucracy – one that innovates and empowers its citizens, and commits to doing more with less. Make no mistake: our government is not just any family business, it is our nation’s business,” banggit ni Lacson sa kanyang pagsasalita sa mga kasapi ng Rotary Club of Parañaque North nitong Sabado.
“The first agenda is addressing the pandemic. We cannot see it ending soon. The second is addressing corruption, which has been on the top of my list ever since I started my public service – when you address corruption, you are halfway to solving the nation’s problems,” paliwanag ng mambabatas.
The Philippines needs to reinvent the bureaucracy to combat some of the biggest scourges facing the nation – namely the pandemic and corruption, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Lacson said the current bureaucracy must be reshaped to one that empowers the citizens and commits to doing more with less.
“As one nation, we must reinvent our bureaucracy – one that innovates and empowers its citizens, and commits to doing more with less. Make no mistake: our government is not just any family business, it is our nation’s business,” he said in his speech before the Rotary Club of Parañaque North on Saturday evening.
“The first agenda is addressing the pandemic. We cannot see it ending soon. The second is addressing corruption, which has been on the top of my list ever since I started my public service – when you address corruption, you are halfway to solving the nation’s problems,” he added.
Nasesentro sa Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) ang malawakang pananamantala sa pondong pantugon sa COVID-19 pandemic na kinasasangkutan ng ilang grupo at personalidad.
Ito ang nakikitang dahilan ni Senador Panfilo Lacson para mas laliman pa ng Senate Blue Ribbon Committee ang ginagawa nitong imbestigasyon sa mga iregularidad ng Department of Health (DOH) at bigyan ng ibayong atensiyon ang papel na ginampanan ng PS-DBM.
“Maliwanag naman may tinutumbok tayo rito na large-scale corruption. What makes it worse, sa gitna ng pandemya, may kumikita,” banggit ni Lacson sa panayam ng DWIZ radio.
“At ang perang ito galing sa utang. Di ba magagalit ka?” dismayadong banggit pa ng mambabatas.
“Hindi natin dapat ito tatantanan!” diin ni Lacson.
The plot thickens on the large-scale corruption by some parties exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic – and the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) is turning out to be a major player.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson thus stressed Saturday the need for the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to dig deeper on the role of the PS-DBM as it continues to investigate irregularities at the Department of Health (DOH).
“Maliwanag naman may tinutumbok tayo rito na large-scale corruption. What makes it worse, sa gitna ng pandemya, may kumikita (It is clear that we are looking at large-scale corruption here. What makes it worse is that this is happening with some unscrupulous parties making gains for themselves right in the middle of a pandemic),” Lacson said in an interview on DWIZ radio.
“At ang perang ito galing sa utang. Di ba magagalit ka (Making matters even worse is that the money involved came from loans. Shouldn’t we taxpayers get angry over this)?” he added.
“Hindi natin dapat ito tatantanan (We should continue to pursue this to its logical conclusion)!” Lacson stressed.
Personal na sinaluduhan at hinangaan ni Senador Panfilo Lacson ang mga auditor ng gobyerno sa pagiging listo at maagap ng mga ito sa pagsuri sa kahina-hinalang transaksiyon sa ilang ahensiya na posibleng mauwi sa korapsiyon.
Ayon kay Lacson, kung walang Commission on Audit (COA) na nag-uulat, malayang-malaya ang mga tiwaling opisyal sa pag-abuso at paglustay sa limitado nang pondo mula sa kaban ng bayan.
“Imagine a country without state auditors… kanya kanyang kupit, kanya kanyang kurakot,” banggit ni Lacson sa pamamagitan ng Twitter.
Walang korapsiyon, walang hindi makatuwirang paghihigpit sa pribadong sektor, at walang paghihiganti sa mga umapi at sumira sa kanyang pagkatao.
Ito ang tiniyak nitong Huwebes ni Senador Panfilo Lacson na maaasahan ng mga Pilipino sa ilalim ng kanyang pamumuno.
“I’ll be unforgiving especially on acts of corruption. It’s a crime against the Filipino people. We have so many tax measures yet we see people stealing from government coffers. That should not be forgiven,” banggit ni Lacson na naglantad sa Senado ng iba’t ibang mukha ng katiwalian sa pamahalaan, sa panayam ng ANC.
No corruption, no overregulation, no vindictiveness. These are three of the things Filipinos can expect from a Lacson presidency in 2022.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson stressed this Thursday as he detailed various aspects of good governance – including the business climate and the anti-drug war – under his watch.
“I’ll be unforgiving especially on acts of corruption. It’s a crime against the Filipino people. We have so many tax measures yet we see people stealing from government coffers. That should not be forgiven,” Lacson, who has exposed cases of corruption in the Senate, said in an interview on ANC.
Senate President Tito Sotto and Senator Ping Lacson in La UnionLA UNION – Maitatala bilang pinakaseryoso at pinakamahalaga ang pambansang halalan sa susunod na taon bunga ng samu’t saring problemang kinakaharap ng bansa na pinangungunahan ng pandemya sa COVID-19.
Binanggit ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson sa pakikipag-usap niya at ni Senate President Vicente Sotto III sa mga mamamahayag na nakabase rito, bilang bahagi ng kanilang “Tour of Luzon” na konsultasyon sa iba’t ibang sektor sa mga posibleng solusyon sa mga problema ng bansa.
Apela ni Lacson, dapat na maging matalino at mapagmasid ang mga botante sa pagpili ng mga susunod na lider ng bansa batay sa mga problemang kinakaharap ng mga mamamayan.
“This is serious, very serious especially because of the pandemic. I think the decision we will make in 2022 is the most serious and important decision we all have to make and we should really think carefully,” banggit ng senador.
“My hope and prayer is that the campaign leading to the May 2022 polls will be a campaign of issues, and not a campaign of entertainment,” dugtong ng mambabatas.
LA UNION – The general election in 2022 may be the most serious and important in recent Philippine history, especially because of the problems the country is facing brought about by the pandemic, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
In a chat with local media here, Lacson said Filipinos must think wisely and consider the current problems and issues carefully in selecting the next leaders who will address the humongous problems facing the nation.
“This is serious, very serious especially because of the pandemic. I think the decision we will make in 2022 is the most serious and important decision we all have to make and we should really think carefully,” he said.
“My hope and prayer is that the campaign leading to the May 2022 polls will be a campaign of issues, and not a campaign of entertainment,” he added.
Bakit hindi patakbuhin ang gobyerno katulad ng isang malaking pribadong korporasyon, para mas maging epektibo ito?
Kabilang ito sa mga usapin na inilatag ni Senador Panfilo Lacson sa pakikipagpulong sa mga negosyante sa Pampanga at mga lokal na opisyal ng Malolos, Bulacan sa pagsimula niya at ni Senate President Vicente Sotto III ng “Tour of Luzon,” na kinapapalooban ng apat na araw na konsultasyon sa iba’t ibang sektor para alamin ang saloobin ng mga ito sa kung paano makatugon ang pamahalaan sa panahon ng kagipitan at pandemya.
Sa kanyang pagsasalita, iginiit ni Lacson na maraming matututunan ang gobyerno sa pribadong sektor – kasama ang mahusay na pangangasiwa ng pananalapi at ang pagbusisi sa mga proyektong nagawa na o ginagawa pa – para mas mainam na makaresponde sa problema ng bansa lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya.
“This is something we want to discuss with you: Isn’t it a sound concept to run the government like a private corporation? For example, many consider Singapore a big ‘corporation,’ in the sense that investments by the people come back to them in the form of social services and other forms of public service. We want to learn from you on these things. We know the companies you run would not be successful if your decision-making is not sound,” banggit ni Lacson sa konsultasyon sa negosyante sa Pampanga.
“In the case of our government, in the preparation of the budget plan for example, instead of the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC) through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) imposing a budget ceiling for the different agencies to work on, it should instead follow what private corporations do, like start from zero and make each of their departments to propose and justify before the board their annual budget,” dagdag ni Lacson.
Why can’t the government be run efficiently, like a big private corporation?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson posed this question in meetings with local businessmen in Pampanga and local officials in Malolos, Bulacan during the first day of his and Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III’s “Tour of Luzon,” a four-day series of consultative meetings to feel the pulse of people on how the government can better respond to the present and post pandemic situations.
Lacson noted that fiscal discipline and a more efficient performance audit are two of many areas where the national government can learn from the business sector to better cope with the humongous problems that our country is now facing amid the pandemic.
“This is something we want to discuss with you: Isn’t it a sound concept to run the government like a private corporation? For example, many consider Singapore a big ‘corporation,’ in the sense that investments by the people come back to them in the form of social services and other forms of public service. We want to learn from you on these things. We know the companies you run would not be successful if your decision-making is not sound,” Lacson said at a consultation with local business leaders in Pampanga.
“In the case of our government, in the preparation of the budget plan for example, instead of the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC) through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) imposing a budget ceiling for the different agencies to work on, it should instead follow what private corporations do, like start from zero and make each of their departments to propose and justify before the board their annual budget,” he added.
Ano ang kalagayan ng programa ng gobyerno sa pagbabakuna laban sa COVID-19, at ang pakikipaglaban sa katiwalian? Mas bumuti ba ang buhay natin ngayon mula nang mag-umpisa ang administrasyon ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte noong 2016? Ano pa ang puwede niyang gawin sa nalalabing panahon ng kanyang termino?
Ilan ito sa mga katanungan ni Senador Panfilo Lacson na inaasahan niyang masasagot ng Pangulo sa panghuling State of the Nation Address (SONA) nito sa Hulyo 26.
“After five years, where are we now, or what is the situation in the many aspects of his administration such as peace and order, fight against illegal drugs, corruption, economy, and foreign policy, particularly the West Philippine Sea? We want to hear what happened in the last five years – and moving forward for the last year of his administration, what can still be done?” banggit ni Lacson sa isang media forum nitong Linggo.
Sa kanyang mga katanungan ay binigyang diin ng mambabatas ang programa sa pagbabakuna.
“But it is critical to update us on the government’s response to the pandemic. This includes the status of the government’s vaccination program. This is important because many Filipinos still do not trust the vaccine. In the meantime, the government must continue its campaign to gain the people’s trust in vaccines, based on science,” ayon pa sa mambabatas.
What is the status of the government’s vaccination program, and its fight against corruption? Are we better off than when President Rodrigo Duterte started his term in 2016? What can be done in the last year of his term?
These are among the questions that Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson hopes the President will address in his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) this July.
“After five years, where are we now, or what is the situation in the many aspects of his administration such as peace and order, fight against illegal drugs, corruption, economy, and foreign policy, particularly the West Philippine Sea? We want to hear what happened in the last five years – and moving forward for the last year of his administration, what can still be done?” Lacson said at a media forum in Manila on Sunday.
“But it is critical to update us on the government’s response to the pandemic. This includes the status of the government’s vaccination program. This is important because many Filipinos still do not trust the vaccine. In the meantime, the government must continue its campaign to gain the people’s trust in vaccines, based on science,” he added.
* Shortfall in revenue collections, with revenues at P2.84 trillion already including non-tax revenues like dividends, fees, etc., compared to the original target of P3.25 trillion, based on the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s 2019 projections for the 2020 General Appropriations Act.
Then there’s the continued uncertainty of the pandemic situation in the country and the whole world, not to mention a whole lot of other problems that will confront the next administration like the West Philippine Sea, illegal drugs, corruption and even issues surrounding the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and God knows what else.
Bunga ng kinakaharap na ga-bundok na problema ng bansa na lumala pa dahil sa pandemya, nananawagan si Senador Panfilo Lacson ng kahit na pansamantalang pagkalma sa katiwalian sa pamahalaan at bangayan ng nagbabanggaang grupong pulitikal.
Ayon sa mambabatas, hindi pa malinaw ang hinaharap at kinakailangan na isipin ng lahat na Pilipino ang kapakanan ng bayan at kalimutan na muna, lalo na ng mga mapagsamantala, ang pagpapalago ng sariling bulsa.
“All of us Filipinos should think of the national interest and unite to promote it. Those Filipinos engaging in corruption now, especially those wanting to make dishonest money from COVID, are not exempt from this,” banggit ni Lacson.
Una nang pumasok ang mga impormasyon sa tanggapan ng mambabatas hinggil sa korapsiyon sa pagbili at suplay ng testing kits at mga makina, face masks, face shields, personal protective equipment (PPE) at mga kahalintulad na kagamitan sa pagtukoy at proteksiyon laban sa COVID-19.
With the myriad of problems the country is facing made worse by the pandemic, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson on Monday called for a much-needed and long-overdue break from corruption and bickering.
Lacson said no one – especially those who continue to engage in corruption to profit from the pandemic – should be exempted from putting national interest above personal aggrandizement.
“All of us Filipinos should think of the national interest and unite to promote it. Those Filipinos engaging in corruption now, especially those wanting to make dishonest money from COVID, are not exempt from this,” Lacson said as he cited information reaching him involving corruption in the procurement and supply of testing kits and machines, face masks, face shields, personal protective equipment (PPE) and similar items.
“Can they at least forget about their greed during the pandemic? I am not saying they can resume their corrupt ways once the pandemic is over, but especially during this period when we face so many problems, they should pause if they cannot stop,” he added in an interview on Eagle News.
While the intention may be good, let us first take a serious look at the situation. Since the Department of Budget and Management already said that the government coffers have dried up, hence funds are no longer available, the bigger question remains: Can we still afford more borrowings intended for dole-outs instead of for other productive purposes to boost our economy? The last thing we need is ending up in a ‘Sisyphean’ situation.
Our best option is to have a sense of urgency and allow the private sector more participation with better flexibility in the vaccination program – true to the government’s ‘whole-of-nation approach’ theme, which is turning out to be mere platitude and lip service.
Then, if we really need to pass Bayanihan 3, the national and local governments must first get their act together to update the data on the intended recipients of the social amelioration program since what the Department of Social Welfare and Development is using is a five-year-old list that is already out of date – hence real-time needs and priorities are not being properly addressed, not to mention the corruption involved in the distribution of such dole-outs because of such a defective list.
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I rise before you on a matter of collective and personal privilege.
Looking back to last week’s Committee of the Whole 2-day hearings, I couldn’t help but think that we’ve been had. Instead of having the information needed to aid us in our legislative work mainly because some people in the panel of our resource persons who are in charge of the vaccine program were not forthright and honest in their responses to the questions raised by the members of this august chamber.
Nevertheless, we find comfort from the wise words of Winston Churchill, who said and I quote: “Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is.”
At the center of the firestorm that had almost consumed the two-day long hearings and had consumed us the most was the Sinovac vaccine for a number of reasons.
Nangangamoy ‘tong-pats’ ang lumulutang na presyo ng bakuna ng Sinovac sa Pilipinas, kumpara sa presyo nito sa ibang bansa.
Ayon kay Senador Panfilo Lacson, ito ay kung pagbabatayan ang $5 kada turok na presyo sa ibang mga bansang naunang nakipagtransaksyon sa kumpanya para masigurado ang suplay at sa $38 (mahigit P1,800) per dose na ibinabalitang presyo sa Pilipinas.
Pero ayon kay Lacson, kung sakali mang totoo na ang sinabi ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. na P650 kada turok ang magiging presyuhan sa bansa, ibig sabihin nito ay nagawa ng Senado ang obligasyon nito para sa makatuwirang presyo ng bakuna.
“If it’s true that government is now dropping the price of Sinovac vaccine from P1,847.25 per dose to only P650, the Senate has probably done our share to save our people billions of pesos in the country’s vaccination program. Netizens can pat themselves on the back,” paliwanag pa ni Lacson sa kanyang Twitter account.
Sharp differences in the prices of Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines and elsewhere may smack of corruption, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson noted that while Sinovac’s product may cost as little as $5 per dose, it may cost as much as a whopping $38 (more than P1,800) in the Philippines.
But Lacson said that if it is true the government is dropping the price of Sinovac vaccines to only P650 per dose, the Senate may have done its share to save billions of pesos in the government’s vaccination efforts.
“If it’s true that government is now dropping the price of Sinovac vaccine from P1,847.25 per dose to only P650, the Senate has probably done our share to save our people billions of pesos in the country’s vaccination program. Netizens can pat themselves on the back,” he said on his Twitter account.
In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* P1-M ‘uniform’ appropriations for at least 42 congressional districts in DPWH’s 2021 budget
* need to prioritize vaccines, R&D in 2021 budget
I want to read the full text of the report first so I can make a more intelligent analysis and responsive comments.
That said, let me just say at the outset that obviously, the materials that we provided and shared with Sec. Guevarra and the composite task force were put into good use at the very least. This is good reason enough to feel gratified that we did our share in taking the first big step in making those criminally and administratively liable for the misuse and abuse of public monies accountable.
At least, for a change, we can hope that these “vultures” will suffer for their misdeeds to satisfy their greed at the expense of the sick and the unhealthy among our countrymen.
Since PhilHealth is a creation of a law passed by Congress, the President has no statutory power to reorganize the agency, so he actually needs an act of Congress to delegate to him such power or authority.
And if the President’s intention is to cleanse PhilHealth of scalawags and misfits, he may not need that delegated authority anymore as he has the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice and other instrumentalities of government at his disposal.
For a start, he can fire its ex-officio chairman and replace him with someone even with little above-average leadership traits, competence, honesty and integrity – and who won’t wash his hands but takes full responsibility for what PhilHealth does or fails to do.
In an interview on DZAR, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Olongapo court’s order for ‘early’ release of US Marine Scott Pemberton
* DOH Secretary Duque’s ‘disagreement’ with Senate committee report on PhilHealth
* talks on Revolutionary Government
If I had my way, as I already said before, based on the three hearings of the Committee of the Whole, there may not be enough evidence to recommend criminal charges against Sec. Duque for the simple reason that like the other members of the PhilHealth Board, he had no hand in the illegal implementation of the IRM; nor was he involved in the procurement of overpriced IT equipment.
However, my colleagues – particularly Senate President Sotto who chaired the COW hearings – would have seen it another way. Since we are a collegial body, we always abide by the rule of the majority.
That said, the Senate Committee of the Whole did include in its recommendation to the President the replacement of Sec. Duque: “To appoint a new Secretary of the Department of Health who has a stronger will to fight corruption within his organization and the agencies under his/her watch.”
“We must thus exert our utmost authority and vigilance to rid PhilHealth of undesirables and, punish to the fullest extent of the law, criminals… Less than this, we cannot allow.” – Senate Committee Report 107, by the Senate Committee of the Whole. Sen. Lacson is one of the sponsors of the Committee Report.
Removing all the regional vice presidents of PhilHealth may be easier ordered than implemented, considering that a number of them are protected by the civil service law. This is not to mention that it is unjust and unfair to those who are not involved in shenanigans in PhilHealth.
As a former chief of the National Bureau of Investigation, he should have no trouble coordinating with the powerhouse task force led by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, his former boss, to implement much-needed reforms in PhilHealth.
I hope he will not fall victim to manipulation by parties inside and outside of the agency who have caused the state insurer to lose billions of pesos to corruption – not just for his sake, but for all Filipinos covered by PhilHealth.
Atty. del Rosario’s irrevocable resignation is one of many reasons to hope for some good things to come in view of the ongoing DOJ-led Task Force investigating the recent PhilHealth anomalies. The paying members and all taxpayers who contribute to the state health insurance fund surely deserve a break from the cyclical corruption involving its top executives.
DOJ Sec. Guevarra being on top of the situation, with full support being extended by the President, is something that we did not see in past investigations of PhilHealth anomalies.
We can only pray and hope that the renewed effort will be sustained all the way to its logical conclusion.
On PCEO Ricardo Morales:
I feel sorry for PCEO Morales, not for anything else but for his health condition. I hate to think that the stress brought about by the intense hearings of the Senate Committee of the Whole may have taken a toll on his already infirm health condition.
In spite of his possible complicity that could make him face some serious legal problems stemming from the report of the Senate Committee of the Whole, I still wish that he wins his bout against cancer and recovers.
In an interview on DZBB/GNTV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* charges that may be filed vs accountable PhilHealth execs
* who is the PhilHealth mafia
* remedial legislation
* cooperation of task force led by DOJ
The roof leaks that reportedly destroyed documents and records at the office of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in Region 1 do not appear to be from natural causes, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Saturday.
Lacson, citing information reaching him, said the leaks occurred in selected areas of what was supposed to be a newly occupied building by PhilHealth, whose personnel moved in only last December.
“There were indications the roof leak was not due to natural causes. The information I got is that there was an inventory of documents when the leaks occurred, particularly at the IT and accounting departments,” he said in an interview on DWIZ.
He added the PACC personnel who were examining the records were surprised that the leak suddenly occurred. “A video of the incident shows the ceiling was new. How come there was a leak?” he noted.
After her 2004 “victory,” Mrs. Arroyo rewarded PhilHealth president Duque with an appointment as DOH Secretary.
Fast forward to 2020, where under new PCEO Ricardo Morales – and Duque as ex-officio chairman – PhilHealth tried to collect premiums from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), notwithstanding their classification as a special sector. This amid a flawed if not perverted implementation of its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) for health care institutions handling COVID-19 cases, gross overpricing in its procurement of IT equipment, and the doctoring of its financial statements.
As for Sec. Duque, he has stayed too long in the DOH and PhilHealth in different capacities. He admitted in a public hearing that he has given his best but it wasn’t good enough.
More than public interest, public health is imperiled with Sec. Duque at the helm of DOH. Notwithstanding the trust and confidence reposed on him by the appointing authority, Filipinos deserve a good, competent, honest and capable DOH Secretary.
Sen. Lacson’s Opening Statement at the Senate Committee of the Whole Hearing on Corruption at PhilHealth:
Sa nakaraang dalawangaraw na pagdinig ng komite ng buong Senado na ating isinagawa sa kasalukuyan, buong singkad na maghapon nang parehong araw ng Martes, pinaligiran po tayo ng mga sinungaling at mga manloloko. Sabi nga ng nanay ng kasama nating Senator Grace Poe – “Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw!”
Let me prove what I just said, Mr. President and distinguished colleagues.
Only last week, I asked Fund Management Sector Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco, Jr., why despite PhilHealth being a withholding tax agent of the BIR, he failed to deduct and withhold from the funds advanced to the private hospitals and other health care institutions the taxes due them under the National Internal Revenue Code.
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a certification which I read during last week’s hearing that B. Braun Avitum Dialysis Center Inc is not registered as a corporation. Unless they show their documents to the contrary and validated by SEC, I will have to stand by the government agency’s issued document.
Having said that, I also read into the records of the Committee of the Whole the SEC registration of B. Braun Medical Supplies Inc.
Nevertheless, nothing can justify the release of funds in the aggregate amount of at least P45 million to B. Braun Avitum Dialysis Center Inc. that has not catered to a single COVID-19 patient and with such record speed, compared to more deserving HCIs, especially government hospitals catering to COVID patients which up to now have not received any payment in relation to PhilHealth Circular 2020-0007, which is its specific intent and purpose.
When he appears on Tuesday, I’ll ask him, being the incumbent ex-officio chairman of PhilHealth who was present during the shouting match in their last board meeting that effectively triggered these controversies, why he has been very quiet in spite of all the anomalies being openly discussed with so many unanswered questions involving highly questionable transactions by PhilHealth in the procurement of IT equipment, IRM funds distribution and manipulation of the agency’s financial statements which no less than COA has red-flagged on top of recurring disallowances and suspension in billions of pesos year in and year out.
I’ll ask him what he intends to do or recommend to the President.
In interviews with Senate media and on ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: * favorable treatment by PhilHealth officials of B Braun Avitum Dialysis Center * discrimination in IRM, optional liquidation of funds and more questionable schemes
* Senate to share findings with parallel investigations by the executive branch
At the Aug. 11, 2020 hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole regarding corruption at PhilHealth, Sen. Lacson bared more irregularities involving issues such as the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism and procurement of IT equipment. He also called for a “special special audit” of PhilHealth – and called out a PhilHealth executive for alluding to investigators as “kampon ni Satanas.”
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.