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.
At the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Lacson stressed the need for greater government support for research and development, especially in the fight against COVID-19. He also raised questions on:
* Information that PhilHealth is not getting full allocations from the sin tax
* Why P30B in COVID-19 response funds remain undisbursed
* NEDA’s ‘Resiliency’ planning
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.