Sen. Grace Poe asserted that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has “failed miserably” in his mandate, as shown by the glaring number of unaddressed cyclical corruption in the government health system.
“The numbers will show that you have failed miserably as the lead of both PhilHealth and the DOH,” Poe told Duque at the Senate committee of the whole hearing on the agency mess.
The senator pointed out that Duque could not feign ignorance about the systemic corruption happening inside PhilHealth having been at its helm for 11 years.
In her remarks, Poe summed up that PhilHealth is similar to a patient with cancer, plagued by corruption and inefficiency through the years, that has endangered the fund life of the agency.
“Ang sakit na nararanasan ngayon ng PhilHealth ay isang cancer na dahil paulit-ulit po itong nangyayari, noon pa. Ang masasabi lamang natin kung merong isang tao na may institutional knowledge ng PhilHealth kung ibabase natin sa haba ng paninilbihan bilang isang pinuno ay kayo po ‘yun,” Poe said.
Duque told the panel he was PhilHealth president from 2001 to 2005, then as chairman from 2005 to 2010 before returning as its head in 2017.
“Sa tagal ng panahon na ‘yun, ang masasabi lang natin, paulit-ulit ninyong binabanggit na kayo ay may krusada laban sa korapsyon subalit parang taliwas ito sa mga napapakita ninyo,” Poe said.
Citing a newspaper article, she said that in 2018, a total of 4,357 administrative cases [involving PhilHealth] were submitted, but not one was acted upon by the management.
“If only Secretary Duque had strong leadership-and he’s supposed to idolize President Duterte, who is known for his quick decisions-then he could have tackled these. Unfortunately, he didn’t,” Poe stressed.
She also highlighted the findings from the agency’s own tracking system called MIDAS, or Machine Learning Identification, Detection, and Analysis System, about the possible presence of ghost dialysis patients.
“A lot of the documents were sent to the Senate at the last minute. I think some of them were received just yesterday and this is almost like dumping on us all of these voluminous papers and at the last minute we had to review each and every one of them. I think it’s almost like intentional that this is being done,” the senator said.
Poe also noted the disparity in the reimbursement claims of hospitals and health centers for dialysis procedures ranging from P737,000 to P33 million.
“Napakalaki ng agwat and ‘yun pang pinakamalaking agwat ay sa iisang lugar. I am not going to mention the name of the professional involved because I don’t want to focus on a personality here but the symptom of a larger institutional problem,” she said.
In the case of B. Braum Avitum, Poe pointed out that PhilHealth still released P45.17 million in reimbursement even if the claims of the company are being questioned.
“They already have pending cases, they’ve been found to be doing something less than exemplary and yet they continually receive funding from the DOH. This is either negligence or malice,” Poe said.
Several lawmakers and groups have earlier called for Duque’s resignation amid what they said was the secretary’s lack of leadership in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and in curbing corruption at PhilHealth.
“11 years na kayo dyan, paulit-ulit lang yung nangyayari. Ano ang solusyon na naiiba ngayon na hindi ninyo nagawa noon. Alam niyo marami nang humingi ng inyong pagbibitiw. Pero kayo mismo hindi niyo inakala na magbigay ng kortesiyang ganun sapagkat sabi mo nga your best is not good enough, but you’re continuing, you’re still there in that agency,” Poe told Duque. SENATE.GOV.PH