Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Scandal anew: The Aquino gang hijacked P10-B senior citizens funds



Former President Benigno Aquino III, photo from SunStar
While the Dengvaxia controversy has sparked rage over its invalidated efficiency and safety and risked the lives of many schoolchildren across the Philippines, columnist Rigoberto Tiglao reveals another major health gaffe that happened under the Aquino administration, one that now threatens the lives of the country’s senior citizens.

The sin tax law was put into effect under the premise that it should allay expenses for the critical sectors in the nation, one of which is the health needs of the aging population. Congress had approved that P10.6 billion will be appropriated to Philhealth’s insurance for senior citizens, however, former President Benigno Aquino III vetoed this when he informed the Congress back in December 2014 that it will be allocated for the “Unprogrammed Fund” of the national budget which, Tiglao comments, “is essentially a reserve contingent fund set aside for unforeseen developments that require bigger government expenses.”

Surprisingly, Congress had merely given in to Aquino’s demands that time and it is safe to speculate that the P10.6 billion was never channeled through Unprogrammed Funds, but may have been used by Aquino to bribe senators during the impeachment case of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and distributed to his allies.

Further proof of this possibility surfaces when the former Health Secretary Janette Garin’s letter to then Budget Secretary Florencio Abad documents the request for the P10.6 billion funds for senior citizens to be appropriated to the Unprogrammed Fund for the augmentation of health facilities, which is the construction, provision, and upgrading of TSeKAP health stations across the nation.

Tiglao opines that health stations projects are one of the most corruptible since it is difficult to monitor where the budget flows, and truly, there has been no official report or audit on the budget appropriation for these health stations.

Additionally, reports have compounded that less than 10% of health stations were constructed all over the nation even when contractors have already received the funds, and in December 2016, a couple of lawmakers filed a resolution seeking investigation on this project only to have the investigation aborted for unknown reasons.

With reports showing that Philhealth may run out of reserves for its health projects and policies, the threat of little to no medical services for the country’s senior citizens is becoming imminent.

Aquino, Abad, and Garin all figure in the Dengvaxia controversy, and the same names have surfaced in this groundbreaking revelation, to which Tiglao asserts that they “had absolutely no compunction about risking the lives of millions of Filipinos.”

Source: manilatimes.net