Gierran assures suspension of execs won’t affect PhilHealth functions
Robie de Guzman • October 29, 2020 • 384
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president and CEO Dante Gierran on Thursday said the agency will continue rendering its services and functions despite the suspension of eight of its executives.
“PhilHealth assures its members and stakeholders that its mandate and services shall continuously proceed unhampered notwithstanding the challenges that it is currently facing as part of the necessary reforms needed to be undertaken to further improve its services toward the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Filipinos,” Gierran said in a statement.
Gierran issued the statement after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of eight PhilHealth officials over the alleged anomalous release of funds under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism Policy.
Among those ordered suspended by the Ombudsman are Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, Executive Vice President Renato Limsiaco, Senior Vice President Dr. Israel Pargas, Area Vice President Gregorio Rulloda, Benefits Administration Section Head Dr. Imelda Trinidad De Vera-Pe, Manager Lolita Tuliao, Fiscal Examiner Gemma Sibucao, and Fiscal Controller Lailani Padua.
The Ombudsman said the suspension order is in relation to the investigation being done on administrative cases of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
“PhilHealth Management acknowledges the recent Order of the Office of the Ombudsman putting several of its Executive Officers and Personnel under preventive suspension for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. We shall abide and implement the suspension Orders accordingly,” Gierran said.
“PhilHealth Management maintains the constitutional rights of its Officers and Personnel on its presumption of innocence until proven otherwise,” he added.
“We trust that the Honorable Office of the Ombudsman will accordingly observe objectivity, justice, and fairness, and allow our concerned Officers and personnel the due process to properly explain and defend themselves,” Gierran further stated.
MANILA, Philippines — Atty. Dante Gierran of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) insisted on Tuesday (January 26) that there is no truth that the agency is missing billions of pesos to irregularities and corruptions.
In August 2020, resigned PhilHealth Anti-Fraud officer Atty. Thorrsson Montes Keith made headlines for divulging alleged anomalies within the agency and claimed that around P15-billion was missing in the state insurer’s fund.
According to Gierran, they are finalizing the liquidation report as to where the said fund had been used.
“Sa ngayon po, 92 percent na ang fully liquidated. So kaunti na lang (So far, 92 percent (of the amount) has been liquidated. Only a small amount to go),” the PhilHealth CEO and President said.
As for the delays in the payment of the agency’s debts to the Philippine Red Cross and other healthcare providers, Gierran explained that, like any other government agency, PhilHealth’s operation is also deeply affected by the current pandemic.
Aside from being undermanned, Geirran said incomplete documents from claim applicants are also delaying their validation process.
“One of the reasons of the delay, of course, we are under the covid regime,” he explained.
“Lahat tayo napipinsala, mga kilos natin (We are all affected, our operations.) We are less liberated,” he concluded. –MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday said he has filed two separate bills seeking to grant the president the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS) in times of national emergencies.
In a statement, Velasco said his twin measures propose to amend Republic Act (RA) 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, and RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, which provide for gradual increases in monthly premium contributions in PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.
The bills authorize the president to suspend the implementation of the scheduled increases in premium rates in times of national emergencies “when public interest so requires.”
But this should be in consultation with the secretaries of health and finance departments as chairpersons of PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.
The measures were filed after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the premium rate increase.
Velasco said RA 11223 was enacted in 2018 to ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk.
He said the intent of the law is clear and cannot be overemphasized—Filipinos need and deserve a comprehensive set of health services that are cost-effective, of high quality, and responsive.
The House speaker, however, stressed that the current situation is extraordinary and that Congress must respond accordingly as he called for the swift approval of the bills aimed at alleviating the financial burden faced by many Filipino workers amid the crisis.
“While we recognize that the [PhilHealth] only aims to implement the provisions of RA 11223, imposing a higher premium rate to our kababayans under our current conditions will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” Velasco said in the explanatory note of House Bill 8316.
“Suspending the imposition of the new PhilHealth premium rates will provide a much-needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic and will assure Filipinos that the government is sensitive to their sentiments,” he said.
In filing HB 8317, Velasco said the temporary suspension of the hike in SSS contributions will help the workforce achieve faster recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
“We are witnesses to the negative impact of this COVID-19 outbreak. Under this pretext, the sovereign government must be given the prerogative to bend the rules of the social security law in favor of the greater good,” Velasco said.
He likewise said that increasing the rate of contributions of SSS members will “strikingly undermine the recovery effort of everyone suffering from job losses, wage reduction, business closures, and health-related issues.”
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