By Ellson Quismorio
Old and new House members agree: President Rodrigo Duterte’s planned reorganization of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid the “ghost patients” mess speaks well of the administration’s anti-corruption campaign.
Deputy Speaker, reelected Sulu 2nd district Rep. Munir Arbison expressed backing for the move.
“We support the President’s plan to re-organize PhilHealth amid the controversy presently happening. This is a good signal to other agencies of the government that are into corruption,” he said.
Echoing Arbison was another Mindanaoan solon in reelected Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who recalled Duterte’s promise in the past to take to task agencies that bare even a “whiff of corruption.”
“Yes [I support it]. This is more than a ‘whiff’ so the filing of charges is in order and appropriate,” noted Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
PhilHealth is in hot water right now after it was reported that the state firm has lost as much as P154 billion in funds since 2013 through the bogus dialysis of ghost patients. This has robbed indigent patients the chance to avail of the treatment.
While the scam was facilitated by unscrupulous health service providers, it is believed that this would not have been possible without the presence of cohorts within PhilHealth.
Magsasaka Party-List Rep. Argel Cabatbat, one of the neophyte lawmakers in the upcoming 18th Congress, said that President Duterte’s willingness to take on the outlaws in PhilHealth separates him from the pack.
“We should have more faith in the government’s drive against corruption considering that this is the only administration that took serious steps to expose and eradicate the PhilHealth mafia,” said Cabatbat, who is a lawyer.
To ensure the success of this drive, the solon reckoned that PhilHealth’s division against fraudulent claims “should be strengthened and be given additional funding and support.”
Several House members have already called for an investigation on the dialysis anomaly.