Universal Health Care Law must be implemented as approved — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2020   •   311

MANILA, Philippines — The government must not defer the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, according to Malacañang.

Otherwise, it will constitute a violation of the Constitution, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said.

Roque specifically addressed the matter to the management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) after issues of anomalies surfaced against the agency. 

He said should the agency fails to adhere to its mandate, it would compel President Rodrigo Duterte to for a new leader who will be more capable to implement the law. 

Ang akin pong panawagan sa mga namumuno sa Philhealth. Kung hindi ninyo po mapapatupad ang isang batas na certified as urgent ni President mismo, dahil na ang nais niya magkaroon ng libreng gamot ang lahat ng Pilipino, gaya ng ginawa niya sa Davao, siguro po hahanap na lang ng iba na magpapatupad niyan,” Roque said. 

[I call on the leadership of PhilHealth. If you will not implement the Law that the President himself certified as urgent as he intends to provide free medicine to all Filipinos similar to what he did in Davao, perhaps he would opt to find another person who will do get the job done.]

Roque, however, stressed that his statement did not intend to threaten PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales. 

For his part, Morales assured that the agency has enough funds to support the claims of all members. 

“We started the year with about P130-B reserved (fund). So hindi totoong walang pera ang [It’s not true that PhilHealth is out of fund] but we were asking for P153-B for 2020,” Morales explained. 

Ang natanggap namin is P71-B. So may shortfall iyon pero kaya pa ng reserves namin iyon [We received P71-B, so yes, we have shortfall but our reserves can still back us up]. We’re okay for this year up to about early next year. We’re fine,” he assured.

PhilHealth is constantly coordinating with the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in case an adjustment is needed in the agency’s budget for next year. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Senate eyeing to start probe on alleged PhilHealth corruption next week

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is looking to start next week its investigation into the alleged anomalies within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 475 urging the upper chamber to convene as a Committee of the Whole to look into the alleged widespread corruption, incompetence, and inefficiency that may lead to the financial collapse of the state-run health insurance agency.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber will constitute as a Committee of the Whole because the scope of the probe is “too wide.”

“Hindi lang tungkol sa health, hindi lang tungkol sa PhilHealth, hindi lang tungkol sa violations at investigations of public officials,” Sotto said in an online press conference.


Under Senate rules, all senators are given voting rights on issues during the legislative hearing once the chamber convenes as a Committee of the Whole.

Sotto said around four to five witnesses are expected to appear in the hearing to provide evidence on alleged irregularities in the agency.

The probe comes after PhilHealth officer, Atty. Thorrson Montes Keith resigned from his post due to supposed rampant corruption in the agency. He also cited the “unconstitutional” mandatory payment of Philhealth for overseas workers as among the reasons for his resignation.

Despite the allegations, Philhealth President and Chief Executive Officer General Ricardo Morales still continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte according to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte wants probe on alleged PhilHealth anomaly

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants an immediate investigation on the reported corruption inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the matter has come to the attention of the President, thus he ordered concerned authorities to investigate particularly the P2B-worth of “overpriced” IT purchases.

“Nag-i-imbestiga na po ang kinauukulan, pinakinggan po ang lahat at ang naging conclusion ay isang maigting na imbestigasyon ang gagawin, at least dito sa isyu ng IT purchase (All concerned are already investigating. Everyone involved has been heard and the conclusion was to conduct a thorough investigation, at least on the issue of IT purchases,” Roque said. 

Also, Roque encouraged Thorrsson Montes Keith who resigned from his position as the agency’s anti-fraud legal officer due to alleged irregularities in PhilHealth, to cooperate in the investigation. 

“Ang aking conclusion diyan talaga may sindikato talaga at ito po iyong pinakamatataas na career executives diyan sa PhilHealth (My conclusion to that is that there is a syndicate [in the agency] and they are the high-ranking career executives),” Roque said. 

PhilHealth president, retired General Ricardo Morales, for his part, denies allegations of corruption within the agency.

He even dared Keith to present his evidence to prove his claims. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PhilHealth clarifies reports on alleged resignation of three execs

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — PhilHealth on Friday (July 24) clarified reports on alleged resignation of three executives over issues of corruption.

In a statement, the state insurer mentioned the names of the officials concerned however, only Head Executive Assistant Etrobal Laborte was confirmed to have tendered his resignation.

As for Atty. Thorrsson Keith, the agency’s anti-fraud legal officer, PhilHealth said it has yet to receive his letter of resignation.

Meanwhile Atty. Roberto Labe Jr., the other person being involved in the resignation issue, “vehemently denied any news of his resignation.”

According to PhilHealth, Laborte’s resignation, which will take effect mid of next month, was due to his plans to pursue a doctorate degree.

Keith’s resignation, according to the agency’s statement, has something to do with promotion which PhilHealth assured to resolve through its grievance unit.

“PhilHealth assures the public that it takes seriously any issue on corruption, and asks Atty. Keith to substantiate his accusations so proper procedures can be initiated,” the agency concluded.

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