Fire, charge, jail PhilHealth execs in exposed corruption: Pangilinan

THE “widespread corruption” exposé of the resigned anti-fraud officer at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) should spur government to immediately fire, charge with plunder, and jail all those involved in anomalies, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Friday. 

Pangilinan, whose push for the approval of the Filipino-made test kits lowered the price of imported test kits by 26 percent, said doing this would prove that government is serious in addressing this unprecedented crisis situation. 

“Ito at ang pagpapalakas nang husto ng ating sistema ng kalusugan ang magpapatunay ng sinseridad at pagiging seryoso ng Admin na sugpuin ang problema ng COVID. Kung seryoso ang gobyernong Duterte na unahin ang kaligtasan ng taumbayan, dapat sibakin agad ang lahat na sangkot sa anomalya sa PhilHealth, kasuhan ng plunder at agad na ikulong. Dito natin gusto makita ang tunay at hindi yung gawa-gawa lang at siga-siga na political will,” the senator said. 

(This and strengthening our health system will prove the Admin’s sincerity and seriousness to solve the problem of COVID. If the Duterte government is serious in prioritizing the safety of the people, it will immediately terminate, charge with plunder, and jail all those involved in the PhilHealth anomaly. This is the real political will we want to see, not fake bluster.)

Atty. Thorrson Montes Keith on 23 July 2020 submitted his resignation as PhilHealth anti-fraud officer to PhilHealth president and chief executive officer retired military general Ricardo Morales.

Keith said he “opposed the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contribution by overseas Filipino workers to which I have stated that it is unconstitutional or not part of the UHC [Universal Health Care] Law. It is against my personal values to let the OFWs pay for the spillage of PhilHealth.”

“I believe there is a widespread corruption in PhilHealth,” Keith said in his resignation letter. 

Pangilinan said decisive government action on mass testing, contact tracing, and treatment of the sick is needed at this time. 

“Hindi na maitago ng pagmumura, pang-iinsulto, at pananakot ang unti-unti nang umaalingasaw na katotohanan na malaking pagnanakaw, sobrang kapabayaan, at kawalan ni katiting na malinaw na solusyon ang ambag ng Administrasyong Duterte sa kasalukuyang krisis,” the senator said. 

(Cursing, insults, and terrorizing will not hide the exposed plunder, neglect, and absence of even a small clear solution that is the Duterte Administration’s contribution to the current crisis.)

Pangilinan said Keith’s resignation exposes not just the “widespread corruption” in the government agency central to addressing the COVID crisis, but also the unacceptable government negligence and abuse of its people especially in these trying times. 

“Sabi nila ang tunay na pagkatao ng bawat isa ay lumalabas sa panahon ng krisis at kalamidad. Marahil ganun din sa tunay na anyo ng isang pamahalaan o pamumuno. Yung pagnanakaw at pangungurakot sa PhilHealth, ang ahensya ng pamahalaan na sentro sa ating healthcare system, sa gitna ng pinakamatinding krisis sa kalusugan sa kasaysayan ng bansa ay indikasyon ng kawalan ng pagpapahalaga at malaking kapabayaan at pagmamalabis ng Administrasyong Duterte na dapat ay pinoprotektahan at pinaglilingkuran nang tapat ang taumbayan,” the senator said.

(They say that a person’s character is revealed during crisis and calamity. Perhaps the same is true of a government or leadership. The plunder and corruption in PhilHealth, the government agency central to our healthcare system, in the middle of the worst health crisis in the country’s history indicates a complete disregard and an abdication of duty and the inexcusable neglect of the Duterte Administration that should be protecting and serving our people with integrity.)

“Sinusunog na sa impyerno ang mga kaluluwa ng mga nagnanakaw ng pondo ng gobyerno para sa kalusugan habang libu-libo na ang nagkakasakit o namamatay dahil sa pandemya,” the senator added.

(Burning in hell are the souls of those who steal government health funds while thousands are getting sick and dying due to the pandemic.)

The country’s total number of confirmed COVID cases continues to soar. As of yesterday, 23 July 2020, the total number of confirmed cases stand at 72,269 after 1,594 new cases were confirmed. With six more dying of the disease, deaths due to COVID now number 1,843.