Outgoing senators reveal plans after Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2019   •   11196

Upper row: (L-R ) Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, Francis Escudero Lower row: (L-R) Senators Gringo Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – Six senators of the 17th Congress are soon to leave the Senate.

Senators Francis Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes IV have until June 30 to serve their last term.

Senators Bam Aquino and Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, needed to leave following their defeat in the 2019 midterm polls.

Escudero may be leaving the Senate but he remains in public office after winning as governor of Sorsogon.

Legarda, likewise, is shifting to local governance after being proclaimed as the new representative of Antique.

For his part, Honasan said he is still hoping for President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of him as head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“It’s up in the air. That will be decided after June 30 by the appointing authority,” Honasan said.

Meanwhile, Senators Aquino and Ejercito said that their next plan to enjoy their private lives with their respective families.

“Ngayon ang ating destiny ay maiba hindi man magpatuloy dito. I guess na mahalaga right now just to take steps back. Spend more time with your kids and try to determine how to help the country in other ways,” Aquino said.

“Maraming paraan para tumulong sa ating bayan,” he added.

“Tulungan ko muna ang wife ko sa mga businesses naming,” Ejercito said when asked about his plans following his exit from Senate.

He admitted, however, that he regretted the outcome of running against his brother Jinggoy Estrada.

“Ang regrets ko…ang pinakamabigat kong problema yung dalawa kaming magkapatid na tumakbo,” Ejercito said.

“Sana kinausap ko na lang. Nag-usap kami ng father ko, ng pamilya na nasabi ko na sana ang aking concern. Ilang beses ko sinabi na ito ang mangyayari na pwede kaming mahila lahat pababa. Exactly ito  na nga ang nangyari,” he added.

Trillanes, meanwhile, said he is thinking of going back to school.

The controversial senator earlier said he will remain critical of the Duterte administration even outside of Senate. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Senate recommends forming committee to look into PhilHealth funds

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2020

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)

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Senate probe will push through as PhilHealth chief requests for leave — Sotto

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 10, 2020

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 (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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Senate probe on PhilHealth issues to push through despite 2-week lockdown — Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   August 3, 2020

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

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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