FILE PHOTO: Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators have denied being dissatisfied with Senator Aquilino Pimentel III’s stint as senate president.
This, after a recent statement from Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito about talks of discontent among senators concerning pimentel’s administration as the senate president.
The senators also denied alleged plans of voting for Sen. Pimentel’s replacement.
“That’s not true, I have not heard that, it’s only now. Sa pagkakakilala ko sa mga kasama kong senador, eh isa nga ako sa mga unang makakaalam niyan kung mayroong ganyan,” said majority floor leader Sen. Vicente Sotto III.
(That’s not true, I have not heard that, it’s only now. Based on what I know of my fellow senators, I would be among the first to know if there are such moves.)
“To be honest, I have not heard of those. There are no discussions or chatters among the senators…so as you know, I guess in the political atmosphere, it is highly politically charged,” said Sen. Bam Aquino.
In separate statements, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros said they are not privy to such plans.
De Lima even expressed her confidence in Pimentel as the leader of the Senate.
“I know him to be really a good, honest and decent person and therefore a good, honest and decent leader. He used to be a client of mine, so I know the person of Senate President Koko,” she said.
Even in the closed-door meeting of the senators, there was no discussion about the senate presidency.
Sen. Sotto said the meeting was centered on the senate’s priority bills as it resumes sessions.
These include bills that have been sponsored on the floor such as freedom of information bill, the proposed granting of emergency powers to the President; the expanded Sotto Law for media practitioners; coco levy and the proposed amendments to Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Also included in the priority bills are the 24 “pet bills” of each senator that are not controversial and contentious.
Among them are the upgrade in the Anti-Hazing Law filed by Sen. Sotto; Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment Act of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and Sen. Grace Poe’s proposal for a feeding program in public elementary schools.
The Senate will resume its session next week in which they will tackle these priority bills that they aim to pass in the first two months this year. — Joyce Balancio | UNTV News and Rescue
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is recommending the formation of a committee that will look into the funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
The Senator laments that even the Department of Finance cannot determine PhilHealth’s state in as fas as its budget is concerned due to the agency’s weak information system.
Drilon wants an Ad hoc committee composed of financial experts from the Social Security System (SSS), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and other insurance corporations that will verify PhilHealth’s financial status.
This is to determine how much subsidy the agency can provide for next year.
One of PhilHealth’s officials previously revealed that the agency’s reserve funds will not be enough if the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues. The official also revealed the agency will only last until 2022 which was questioned by several lawmakers.
“How much really does it need in order to continue its operation? Is P71 billion the correct amount? Is it more? Is it less? This [the committee] will also give us the opportunity to review how much should be due to our health system in general,” Drilon said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III supports this recommendation. Sotto agrees that there is a need to review PhilHealth’s financial situation.
“We suggested yesterday that there should be an urgent and extensive review and inspection of the corporation’s financial life,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto assured that the probe on the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will push through amid the request of its president, Ricardo Morales, for a medical leave.
“It won’t stop our inquiry and other witnesses and testimonies from coming out. It won’t also stop the filing of charges against erring officials of PhilHealth if warranted,” he said.
Morales submitted his medical certificate stating that he cannot physically attend the Senate hearing due to his medical condition.
Meanwhile, the PhilHealth official lamented his privacy was not respected after his medical certificate was leaked to the public.
“As president and chief executive, it is my duty to represent the corporation while still physically capable. I regret that my privacy was not respected,” he said in a statement.
PhilHealth Executive Vice President and COO Arnel De Jesus also advised the Senate his inability to attend the said hearing due to a medical emergency. The Senate inquiry is scheduled for Tuesday (August 11).
Meanwhile, members of the Department of Information and Communications Technology will also attend the hearing to shed light on the issue of the alleged overpriced IT System budget of PhilHealth.
Sotto has also recommended putting the witnesses under the protection program of the Department of Justice. AAC (withreports from Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said that the scheduled investigation into allegations of “widespread corruption” in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will still push through despite a possible lockdown of the Senate building.
The Senate is set to convene as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, August 4 to delve into reports of alleged corruption in PhilHealth.
“Hearings will not be covered by our ‘ECQ’. Tuloy [ang] PhilHealth [probe] tomorrow,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
Earlier, sources said that the Senate will be placed on a two-week lockdown in support of the medical workers’ plea for timeout.
The Senate leader said the hearing will be conducted in a “hybrid” setup, which means that senators’ physical and virtual attendance will be acknowledged.
Resource persons invited to the hearing, however, will be required to physically appear in the Senate.
Among those invited to face in the probe is PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales.
“We seek to get the answers to the questions of how and where these funds were spent. The important thing, the bottom line is we need to amend the law. Apparently, we need to amend the law creating PhilHealth to prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Sotto said.
Also invited to the hearing are PhilHealth Board Member Alejandro Cabading, former Head Executive Assistant Estrobal Laborte, and resigned Atty. Thorsson Montes Kieth, who claimed there is widespread corruption in the agency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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