Sotto, Lacson want fresh probe into alleged PhilHealth corruption

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020   •   1077

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday said a fresh investigation should be conducted into the alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) following the resignation of one of its officers.

“There must be a full blown Senate investigation. Allegations and denials abound therefore diligence is necessary,” Sotto said in a statement.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire!” he added.

Lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith resigned from his post in PhilHealth citing “widespread corruption” in the agency as one of his reasons for quitting. He also said in his resignation letter that the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contribution by overseas Filipinos workers was “unconstitutional” and against his personal values to let OFWs “pay for the spillages” of the agency.

He also claimed that there is rampant and patent unfairness in the agency’s promotion process, and that his salary and hazard pay has not been on time since he started investigating Philhealth officers as its “anti-fraud legal officer.”

According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, he is now drafting a resolution seeking for an inquiry into the issue.

“I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate’s top agenda after our session resumes on Monday,” Lacson said in a separate statement.

Reports quoting sources said that corruption claims were the topic of an online meeting that led to a shouting match between Philhealth officials on Thursday evening.

“That such corruption occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis makes it more disgusting and abominable,” Lacson said.

“Nakakasuya na sobra. Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law,” he added.

Last year, the Senate launched a probe into alleged conflict of interest between PhilHealth and the Department of Health. The investigation also covered DOH contracts that went to pharmaceutical firms owned by relatives of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales earlier denied claims of widespread corruption in the agency and called on Keith to substantiate his allegations. He also said that Keith only raised the issue after his application for another post at the agency was turned down.

Morales also denied the alleged resignation of two other PhilHealth officers due to corruption allegations. He said his head executive assistant resigned to pursue his doctoral studies while a corporate counsel denied any news of quitting his post. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Lacson, Gatchalian test positive for COVID-19

Maris Federez   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Senators Panfilo Lacson and Sherwin Gatchalian have tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a Twitter post on Friday, Lacson confirmed that he has contracted the virulent virus after undergoing the test on January 4.

He said he has informed all his close contacts since January 3 about his condition and advised them to take the necessary precaution.

“Immediately informed all my Jan 3 physical contacts of my Jan 4 COVID-positive test result which was released only last night, Jan 6 so they can take extra precautions to protect their loved ones and others. Thank God no one is exhibiting symptoms. Wearing our masks helped much,” Lacson said.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian announced his COVID-19 positive result in a Viber message to Senate reporters.

Gatchalian said he tested positive Friday but only experienced mild symptoms.

The senator assured that he is following strict health protocols by self-quarantining away from family members, friends, and the public.

He also appealed to the public to get vaccinated and boosted.

“This is to inform the public that I tested positive for COVID-19 today. Following strict health protocols, I went on self-quarantine away from family, friends, and the public,” he said.

“So far, I am only experiencing mild symptoms from the virus and this goes to show that the vaccines are effective and working against it. I enjoin everyone to get your booster shots right away,” he added. —/mbmf

Lacson-Sotto tandem to endorse 15 senatorial bets in 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The tandem of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III has bared the list of senatorial candidates they will be endorsing in the 2022 national and local elections.

The list includes the following senatorial bets:

  1. Antique Rep. Loren Legarda
  2. Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero
  3. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian
  4. Senator Migs Zubiri
  5. Senator Joel Villanueva
  6. Senator Richard Gordon
  7. Former Vice President Jejomar Binay
  8. Former DICT Secretary Gringo Honasan
  9. Former Senator JV Ejercito
  10. Former QC Mayor Herbert Bautista
  11. Former DA Secretary Manny Piñol
  12. Monsour del Rosario
  13. Powee Capino
  14. Minguita Padilla

Sotto said the senatorial candidates included in their list are the ones who “deserve to be in the Senate.”

They will also endorse a “surprise candidate.”

“Tulungan niyo po kami sa pagtaguyod sa kandidatura ng ating mga kaibigan. Nakakasiguro po kami na malaki ang maitutulong ng ating mga kandidato sa ating bansa, sa ating mga kababayan, at sa Senado,” Sotto said.

Lacson and Sotto are seeking the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, in the next year’s polls.

Lacson-Sotto tandem files COC for president, VP bids

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday filed their certificates of candidacies (COC) to run for president and vice president, respectively, in the 2022 national elections.

Lacson and Sotto filed their COCs past 11 a.m.

This is Lacson’s second try at seeking the presidential post after a failed bid nearly two decades ago.

Should they win the election next year, the lawmakers said they will intensify efforts against corruption and illegal drugs and ensure proper balance in the use of national budget.

“Kung ipagkakaloob ng Dios na ang Lacson-Sotto tandem ang mapipiling mamuno isang disiplanong burukrasya ang paiiralin, kabilang na ang maayos na paggastos ng pambansang budget upang makaabot ang biyaya at kaunlaran sa mga liblib na lugar ng bansa,” Lacson said during a short interview with the media after their COC filing.

“If we hold the reigns of the executive department we will able to execute it well. We know the ails, we know the solutions, balance the budget, budget reform, reign the money to the people, enhance the fight in illegal drugs by more emphasis on demand with reduction strategy,” Sotto said.

Lacson is running under the Demokratikong Reporma Party while Sotto is under the Nationalist People’s Coalition. Both lawmakers sit as chairmen of their respective parties.

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