Hinamon ni Senador Panfilo Lacson si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na putulin na ang pamamayagpag ng mala-sindikatong gawain sa kagawaran gaya ng nakaugalian nang labis-labis na pag-iimbak ng gamot na kadalasang nasisira lamang.
Ang hamon ni Lacson ay Duque ay kasunod ng pagsiwalat ng mambabatas sa tinatayang P2.736 bilyong halaga ng gamot na nasira na o kaya nalalapit na sa pagkasira sa poder ng DOH, kung saan nasa P2.2 bilyon ay naitala sa 2019 lamang.
“We wasted P2.736 billion in taxpayers’ money. What’s the reason for this? Why are we overstocking? Why are we buying medicines near their expiration dates? What does this tell us? I’ve been an investigator all my life. To me, this indicates that there is probably a ‘mafia’ that is well-entrenched – can’t be uprooted,” banggit ni Lacson sa pagdinig ng Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
“Unless the leadership of the DOH will put his foot down and do something about this, we won’t see the end of this overstocking of medicines,” dagdag ni Lacson.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson on Wednesday challenged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to put his foot down against the “Mafia-like” activities behind the recurring overstocking of medicines and other irregularities hounding the agency.
Lacson issued the challenge during a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing where he cited figures showing overstocked, expired and near-expiry medicines amounting to P2.736 billion – including P2.2 billion in 2019 alone.
“We wasted P2.736 billion in taxpayers’ money. What’s the reason for this? Why are we overstocking? Why are we buying medicines near their expiration dates? What does this tell us? I’ve been an investigator all my life. To me, this indicates that there is probably a ‘mafia’ that is well-entrenched – can’t be uprooted,” he said.
“Unless the leadership of the DOH will put his foot down and do something about this, we won’t see the end of this overstocking of medicines,” he added.
The President should start looking beyond DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III and mind the public sentiment for a change. He was elected by the people whom he has sworn to serve.
Hirap na ang ating mga health workers, na kasama sa mga Pilipinong pinangakuan ng Pangulo na pagsilbihan. Marami sa kanila ay pinagkakaitan ng Special Risk Allowance na nakapaloob sa Bayanihan Act, na Malakanyang mismo ang nakiusap sa amin sa Kongreso na ipasa.
Ang incompetence ay hindi dapat pinapalampas, lalo na sa gitna ng krisis na dulo ng pandemya.
The issue on the DOH’s management of pandemic response funds will definitely be taken up during the deliberations of the DOH’s 2022 budget, once the Senate starts the hearings before approving their budget. This is among the many other issues hounding the agency.
That said, I remember that during DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III’s confirmation hearings at the Commission on Appointments, I asked him some questions on DOH’s supply chain issues and what he intended to do to resolve those issues. He could not answer my questions satisfactorily, if at all.
Am I surprised that he did not even bother to research in spite of his obvious lack of knowledge on the importance of the supply chain in his department? What gives? It’s hubris. He only cares about his boss, the President who, for reasons only they probably know cannot and will not remove him from office in spite of repeated calls from the majority of senators and other sectors.
Sadly, the issues brought to light by the Commission on Audit report, among others, shows that he doesn’t care about the health concerns of the people who he is supposed to serve.
Habang hinihintay ang pagdating ng maramihang suplay ng bakuna sa bansa laban sa COVID-19, dapat nang maglunsad ng malawakang kampanya ang Department of Health (DOH) para mapalakas ang tiwala ng publiko sa mga ito.
Ito ay ipinaalala ni Senador Panfilo Lacson na nagbabala na maaaring masayang ang dumating na bakuna dahil maraming Pilipino ang walang tiwala rito.
“What our officials including Health Sec. Francisco Duque III should do is improve the public’s trust in vaccines, instead of just announcing when the vaccines will arrive. Besides, if very few Filipinos are willing to be vaccinated, the vaccines that actually arrive may go to waste,” banggit ni Lacson sa panayam ng DZRH radio.
While waiting for COVID-19 vaccines to actually arrive, the Department of Health needs to mount an information drive to improve the public’s trust in vaccines, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson warned of the possibility that the vaccines that arrive may go to waste mainly because many Filipinos have low trust in them.
“What our officials including Health Sec. Francisco Duque III should do is to improve the public’s trust in vaccines, instead of just announcing when the vaccines will arrive. Besides, if very few Filipinos are willing to be vaccinated, the vaccines that actually arrive may go to waste,” he said in an interview on DZRH radio.
Senyales ng pagiging desperado na ng mamamayan bunga ng kawalan ng tulong mula sa pamahalaan sa panahon ng pandemya ang paglutang ng mga community pantry sa ilang lugar sa Metro Manila.
Ayon kay Senador Panfilo Lacson, bagama’t isang magandang gawain at ehemplo ng pagtutulungan at pagkakaisa ng mamamayan ang community pantry, sa kabilang banda ay makikita rin ang desperasyon ng mga tao dahil hindi na nila maasahan sa tulong ang pamahalaan.
“It is good that through the community pantries, we see mutual aid by neighbors and barangay residents. But this is also a sign of desperation, that people can no longer rely on government to help them,” pagsiwalat ng mambabatas sa panayam sa kanya ng DZBB radio.
Kasabay nito ay nagpaalala rin ang mambabatas sa mga nagtutungo sa mga nabanggit na lugar.
“That said, those involved in community pantries must also remember to follow the proper health protocols to make sure they do not get infected,” dagdag ni Lacson.
While they are a welcome development, the makeshift community pantries that have popped up in parts of Metro Manila amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis may also be considered a sign of desperation, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson said it is good that residents take the initiative to help each other, but added such efforts show they can no longer rely on the government for help.
“It is good that through the community pantries, we see mutual aid by neighbors and barangay residents. But this is also a sign of desperation, that people can no longer rely on government to help them,” he said in an interview on DZBB radio.
To Mindanao Times: Please allow us to set the record straight regarding claims made by Mr. Vic N. Sumalinog in his March 16, 2021 column regarding Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson – including his insinuations that personal and/or political motives are behind Sen. Lacson’s less-than-glowing comments on some issues involving Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.
Nasa mahigit P126 bilyon na ang aprubadong utang ng bansa para sa pagbili ng bakuna laban sa COVID-19. Pero bukod sa donasyon ng Tsina at COVAX, nasaan ang mga bakunang dapat ay nabili sa pamamagitan ng naturang pondo?
Tanong ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson matapos tingnan ang impormasyon mula sa World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) at Asian Infrastracture Investment Bank, at ng Department of Finance (DOF).
“Magpakatotoo sana, doon muna sa basic. Sabihin lang ang totoo. So long as the concerned authorities do not recognize the problem, we cannot come up with a solution. Bigyan talaga ang lowdown sa Pilipino at maging decisive sana,” paliwanag ni Lacson sa panayam ng SMNI.
As culled from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank records and further articulated in a series of official statements from the Department of Finance, we may now have some P126.75 billion in approved loans for COVID vaccines, but the question remains: Where are the vaccines?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson raised this question Thursday as he stressed the Filipino people deserve a lowdown from the government on the situation.
Lacson also reiterated his call to the government to treat the private sector as a partner and not as a competitor in the procurement of the much-needed vaccines.
“Magpakatotoo sana, doon muna sa basic. Sabihin lang ang totoo. So long as the concerned authorities do not recognize the problem, we cannot come up with a solution. Bigyan talaga ang lowdown sa Pilipino at maging decisive sana,” he said in an interview on SMNI.
Sino kaya ang nagdikta sa Department of Health (DOH) kaya mataas ang presyo ng Sinovac vaccines na dati nitong binanggit?
Tinanong ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson matapos na nagsabing “not totally acceptable” ang paliwanag ni DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III na hinanap niya lang sa Google ang presyo ng nabanggit na bakuna.
“Unverified reports that some shenanigans working behind the scene might have fed the DOH the unreasonably high price of the Sinovac vaccine could lend credence to the attempt to dupe the Filipino taxpayers even during a pandemic,” pagbubunyag ng mambabatas.
Lumalabas kasi na masyadong malayo ang isiniwalat na presyo na isiniwalat ng DOH kumpara sa mga report na naglalabasan.
“As early as Oct. 14, 2020, it was reported that the price of Sinovac vaccines in Indonesia was about P683. There is also a price range of P650 to P700 per dose that was relayed to us. This is quite far from the P3,629.50 submitted by the DOH to the Senate finance committee in December last year for the 2021 budget deliberations,” nagtatakang pahayag ng senador.
Who fed the Department of Health the unreasonable prices of Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson asked this Monday as he deemed not totally acceptable the explanation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that they “Googled” the price of Sinovac vaccines.
“Unverified reports that some shenanigans working behind the scene might have fed the DOH the unreasonably high price of the Sinovac vaccine could lend credence to the attempt to dupe the Filipino taxpayers even during a pandemic,” he said.
“As early as Oct. 14, 2020, it was reported that the price of Sinovac vaccines in Indonesia was about P683. There is also a price range of P650 to P700 per dose that was relayed to us. This is quite far from the P3,629.50 submitted by the DOH to the Senate finance committee in December last year for the 2021 budget deliberations,” Lacson added.
Sana naging instrumento ang kontrobersya sa Sinovac para matuto ng seryosong aral sa katapatan at walang ikinukubling transaksyon ang mga opisyales na nangangasiwa sa bakuna laban sa COVID-19.
Binigyang diin ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson, kasabay ng pagsasabing hindi sana natuon sa Sinovac ang atensiyon ng Senado kung hindi nagpatumpik-tumpik ang mga opisyal.
“If they had been more forthright and honest in their responses in our first hearing, hindi mafo-focus sa Sinovac,” banggit ni Lacson sa panayam sa ANC.
Ayon pa sa mambabatas, palagiang handa ang dalawang kapulungan ng Kongreso na makipagtulungan sa ehekutibo kaya nararapat lamang na malaman din nila kung paano ginugugol ang mga pondong kanilang inaaprubahan.
“When the Senate hearings raised more questions than answers about Sinovac, our officials were both tongue-tied and stuttering, leaving us with a string of flip-flopping pronouncements,” bahagi ng privilege speech ni Lacson nitong Lunes.
While there is still a long way to go as far as the government’s vaccination efforts are concerned, the controversy involving COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac should be a hard lesson on honesty and transparency for officials in the program, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Tuesday.
Lacson said that had the officials been forthright about the conditions of negotiations with Sinovac early on, there would have been no speculations or suspicions about the matter.
“If they had been more forthright and honest in their responses in our first hearing, hindi mafo-focus sa Sinovac,” he said in an interview on ANC, stressing that while Congress – the Senate and House of Representatives – are willing partners of the executive department, in return, lawmakers “need to be informed also what happened to the appropriations we gave you.”
“When the Senate hearings raised more questions than answers about Sinovac, our officials were both tongue-tied and stuttering, leaving us with a string of flip-flopping pronouncements,” Lacson noted in his privilege speech on the issue Monday.
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.
At the first hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the government’s vaccination efforts, Sen. Lacson detailed how incompetence and lack of urgency slowed down the government’s efforts to procure COVID vaccines.
Dapat na alam ng mga frontliner ang detalye ng vaccination plan ng pamahalaan – kung talagang may ganoong plano.
Ipinunto ni Senador Panfilo Lacson na isa ito sa pagtutuunan niya ng pansin sa pagdinig na isasagawa ng Senado sa pamamagitan ng Committee of the Whole sa Lunes.
Ayon sa mambabatas, mga frontliners ang nasa bungad ng panganib sa pagharap ng Pilipinas sa pandemya ng COVID-19 kung kaya’t tama lamang na maimpormahan ang mga ito sa mga galaw ng pamahalaan tungkol sa bakuna.
“The frontliners deserve to know because they are the ones who go to the morgues, they are the ones who attend to COVID patients. They deserve to know if they would be prioritized in the vaccination program. There is no reason for the officials concerned to ask for an executive session on this because there is nothing confidential or classified about it. Wala namang kalaban dito; ang kalaban natin dito, sakit. Hindi naman yan sasagot,” banggit ni Lacson sa panayam sa DZBB.
Frontliners who have risked their lives amid the ongoing pandemic deserve to know the details of the government’s overall vaccination plan – if there is one, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson said this is one of the points he will pursue when the Senate Committee of the Whole holds its first hearing on the matter on Monday.
“Do we have a clear vaccination plan? Based on our conversations with doctors and frontliners, it appears we don’t. But frontliners are waiting to know when they would be prioritized in the vaccination program,” he said in an interview on DZBB.
“The frontliners deserve to know because they are the ones who go to the morgues, they are the ones who attend to COVID patients. They deserve to know if they would be prioritized in the vaccination program. There is no reason for the officials concerned to ask for an executive session on this because there is nothing confidential or classified about it. Wala namang kalaban dito; ang kalaban natin dito, sakit. Hindi naman yan sasagot,” he added.
Such a pronouncement from the President is at the very least, unfortunate. I think there could be a more diplomatic or at least a better way of asking a longtime ally to help us avail of the vaccines for our people without sounding like we are blackmailing our way into it.
In an interview on Politiko, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Possible veto of questionable items in 2021 budget
* Efforts to procure COVID vaccines
* Calls for reimposition of death penalty
* Hope for the New Year
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.”
Some people are definitely making a killing out of the misery brought upon our people by the coronavirus, coming as it does in many forms we cannot even imagine.
We have seen the PhilHealth’s illegal advance payments to unauthorized health care institutions and grossly overpriced procurement of IT equipment – not to mention its doctoring of financial records.
At the Department of Health, we continue to be confronted by issues we hate to hear, but which we now know anyway – the DOH’s “double-the-price” purchases of PPEs and face masks and probably even face shields.
Yet, as we hear the Secretary of Health saying that the pandemic is a “blessing in disguise,” we know for sure we haven’t seen the worse for our suffering countrymen, in terms of health and economic well-being.
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.
More than rectifying the wrong implementation of the IRM Circular 2020-0007, the accountable officers of PhilHealth who were responsible for the advance payments worth billions of pesos from March to July made to unauthorized HCIs like dialysis centers, maternity care providers, etc., should be made criminally and administratively liable for malversation of public funds (or property) under Art. 217, Chapter 4 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Sec. 40 or RA 10951, which carries the penalty of reclusion perpetua if the amount involved is in excess of P8.8 million.
The evidence supported by official documents and testimonies provided by resource persons who testified under oath so far gathered by the Senate Committee of the Whole during the threeweeklyhearings are enough to indict people responsible directly or otherwise.
Without tough punitive action against those involved in such shenanigans, we may never see the end of the vicious cycle of corruption that has plagued PhilHealth.
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 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.
In an interview on DZBB and GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on: * Senate efforts to address COVID-19 situation [01:48]
* 3 issues hounding PhilHealth that the Senate probe will focus on [04:33]
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Expectations at President Duterte’s SONA [00:11]
* Latest corruption and mismanagement at PhilHealth [07:20]
* Claims that IATF is a failure in dealing with COVID-19 [37:04]
Unabated corruption and mismanagement of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) funds has been a topic of discussion among Senate President Sotto and me, along with some senators from the majority bloc, for quite some time now.
But the reported shouting match in a recent virtual conference between the PhilHealth president and some board members involving almost P1 billion worth of questionable transactions, including a total overprice of P98 million – if true, says it all.
I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate’s top agenda after our session resumes on Monday.
That such corruption occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis makes it more disgusting and abominable. Nakakasuya na sobra. Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law.
In an interview on Abante Radyo Tabloidista, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* ABS-CBN franchise [30:25]
* Fake news vs Anti-Terrorism Law [37:22]
* Cops accused of violating the law [16:07]
* Dealing with COVID at home [21:20]
* DOH issues in handling COVID pandemic [24:05]
In an interview on PTV-4’s Laging Handa public briefing, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Why the Anti-Terrorism Bill is urgent [21:12]
* DOH leadership woes in dealing with COVID-19 threat [23:15]
* National ID’s value amid pandemic [24:56]
* Implementing the GMRC Law [28:03]
It’s about time. I can only hope that this time around, the investigation will bear fruit and find those concerned liable and suffer the consequences of their misdeeds in taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis for self-aggrandizement.
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* possible challenge vs Anti-Terror Bill before the Supreme Court [14:31]
* Sen. Drilon voted yes to anti-terror bill [7:04]
* blame game in COVID health workers’ P1M death benefits [29:53]
* Sec. Duque’s other obligations to health workers under Bayanihan Act [35:39]
* ‘removal’ of safeguard vs overpricing in Bayanihan 2 [44:33]
Many of us are starting to wonder what “amulet” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III has to deserve such a special treatment.
While I do not and cannot question the presidential prerogative to hire and fire his Cabinet secretaries and other political appointees not protected by the civil service law, it is kind of boring to see Sec. Duque pointing fingers at his subordinates and other people for his pattern of failures in running the DOH – and getting away with it each time.
Now, he even blames his inadequacies and neglect on those who have not received the compensation allowances, by claiming that some of them have two wives.
Goodness gracious! Mr. Secretary, they are no longer around to defend or explain themselves.
Considering that the economy is reeling from a prolonged lockdown which directly affects not only individual and family income but the country’s revenue collections as well, thus draining the coffers like an open faucet, it is wise for our policy makers to ease up the restrictions currently being imposed.
As long as physical distancing and other protocols are strictly observed and enforced by authorities, I support this latest plan to allow business activities to resume, even on a limited scale.
Having said that, I hope the finer details of the decision to ease the quarantine restrictions would be based on sound data, and not just that of the Department of Health, whose limitations in handling data may potentially lead to wrong decisions. After all, we all do want to stay alive even during a lockdown.
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* overpricing at DOH amid COVID-19 threat [0:19]
* DOH insiders provided information on irregularities [4:12]
* expose is meant to put DOH on notice [5:58]
* wrong decisions due to wrong data [11:12]
* IATF members dismayed with DOH performance [22:50]
* proposed tax on Netflix [25:48]
In an interview on ANC, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* second wave of COVID? [0:21]
* pattern of overpricing at DOH [3:05]
* day of reckoning vs those behind overpricing [7:46]
* need for extension of Bayanihan Act [12:17]
* fate of NCRPO chief Debold Sinas [13:21]
* ABS-CBN franchise issue [16:50]