Tag: COVID-19

On Sec. Duque’s Claim that the COVID-19 Pandemic is a Blessing in Disguise

Image Courtesy: PNA

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.

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What Filipinos Deserve: A Corruption-Free PhilHealth, a Competent DOH Secretary

In 2004, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III was PhilHealth president when it illegally diverted P500 million in OWWA Medicare funds to buy PhilHealth cards bearing ex-President and then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s picture with the acronym GMA (Greater Medical Access) and GMA Para sa Masa, Para sa Lahat. The cards were distributed to areas where they knew they would lose against the late Fernando Poe Jr.

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.

The President’s trust and confidence notwithstanding, Filipinos don’t deserve a state health insurance that is so corrupt, made possible by officials entrusted with mandatory monthly deductions from hard-earned salaries of ordinary employees.

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.

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On Sec. Duque’s Promise to ‘Rectify’ PhilHealth’s Circular on IRM for COVID-19 HCIs

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 three weekly hearings 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.

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QUOTES FROM TELERADYO INTERVIEW…
Continue reading “On Sec. Duque’s Promise to ‘Rectify’ PhilHealth’s Circular on IRM for COVID-19 HCIs”

#PINGterview: Katiwalian sa PhilHealth: Ang ‘Bigating’ B. Braun Avitum

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

QUOTES and NOTES:
Continue reading “#PINGterview: Katiwalian sa PhilHealth: Ang ‘Bigating’ B. Braun Avitum”

Sinong Kampon at Sino si Satanas? More Irregularities at PhilHealth Bared

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.”

QUOTES and NOTES:
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Balancing Economy and Health: On The Pandemic-Caused Recession Worsened by PhilHealth Corruption

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.

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On Sec. Duque’s Fitness to Stay as DOH Chief

It is not only me who disagrees with the President for not firing Secretary Duque. There were 14 senators who had earlier asked him to resign. I don’t think that number has changed.

Many others in the DOH and the medical community also want him to resign or be replaced.

Having said that, I couldn’t understand what “amulet” or magic potion Duque has as far as the President is concerned.

His failure to do a simple contact tracing on the co-passengers who took the same flight as the virus-infected couple from Wuhan, China, further aggravated by his refusal to assume responsibility by blaming other agencies of government when it was his duty to coordinate that effort was his first major offense in a series of devastating blunders.

All these being considered, it is not difficult to understand why we are in this mess.

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On Health Care Workers’ Appeal to Place Mega Manila under ECQ

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.

On the other hand, this underscores the significance of data management by concerned government agencies, which after more than four months should have already been in place and readily implementable.

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Read: Senate Resolution 479, Urging COA to Conduct a Special Audit of COVID-Related Spending before Congress Deliberates on 2021 Budget

Various procurements made in relation to COVID-19 have been marred by allegations of overpricing … Congress is set to deliberate on the 2021 budget, and anticipating that massive allocations will need to be made to address the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, it is of critical importance that there be audit findings to guide legislators in their exercise of the power of the purse.” (co-author with Senators Hontiveros, Drilon, Pangilinan, de Lima, Recto)

#PINGterview: Dapat May Makulong na sa Katiwalian sa PhilHealth!

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]

QUOTES and NOTES:
Continue reading “#PINGterview: Dapat May Makulong na sa Katiwalian sa PhilHealth!”