By Analou De Vera
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that seven officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) had already submitted their courtesy resignations.
“Nag-submit na ng courtesy resignation ang mga presidential appointees to the PhilHealth board kasama si [Dr.] Roy Ferrer (The presidential appointees to the PhilHealth board, including Dr. Roy Ferrer, already submitted their courtesy resignations),” said the health chief.
Aside from Ferrer, the six other PhilHealth officials who tendered their courtesy resignations were Roberto Salvador, Celestina Dela Serna, Joan Cristine Reina Liban- Lareza, Hildegardes Dineros, Rex Mendoza, and Jack Arroyo.
Duque said the six officials will still stay, up until “the President accepts officially their courtesy resignation,” while the resignation of Ferrer will take effect immediately.
President Duterte asked for the courtesy resignations of the state insurance firm’s acting president and its board members last Monday following reports of fraudulent activities that is happening in PhilHealth.
Duque said PhilHealth Executive Vice President John Basa will serve as officer-in-charge of the agency upon his return from abroad on Monday.
Duque also said that the government will run after health care providers and PhilHealth officials who engage in fraud.
“As the Health Secretary and ex-officio Chairman of PhilHealth, I am warning all health providers and PhilHealth officials in the strongest possible terms: Do not cheat the system nor even attempt to do it,” said Duque.
Duque said that it is “utterly unacceptable” for the PhilHealth to be “taken advantage of and used in corruption,” following the fraudulent activities that involves the state insurance firm funds.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday decried what he called “selective justice” in the non-inclusion of Duque among the officials taken to task over the “ghost dialysis” scam.
Lacson posted on Twitter a statement reminding President Duterte that Duque figured in another controversy in PhilHealth when he was still its president.
“Mr. President, your DOH [Department of Health] secretary/PhilHealth chairman was PhilHealth president in 2004 when P500 million in OWWA funds was illegally used to buy PhilHealth cards bearing ex-PGMA’s [President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] picture with the acronym GMA (Greater Medical Access) and GMA Para sa Masa, Para sa Lahat,” Lacson wrote.
The senator referred to the diversion of the P530-million Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds to pay for the PhilHealth cards linked to Arroyo’s re-election bid in 2004. Duque was PhilHealth chief executive officer from 2001 to 2005.
The fund transfer prompted the filing of plunder and malversation cases against Arroyo, Duque, and several other officials. But the Office of the Ombudsman, in 2012, dismissed the malversation charges for lack of evidence.
When asked to clarify his tweet, Lacson said he finds it questionable that Duque was not held accountable for the latest mess in PhilHealth.
Duque, Lacson noted, sits as ex-officio chairman of the PhilHealth board. (With a report from Vanne Elaine Terrazola)