LOOK: Prominent Journalist exposes Aquino admins PhilHealth anomalies - The Daily Sentry

Thursday, June 7, 2018

LOOK: Prominent Journalist exposes Aquino admins PhilHealth anomalies

Jojo A. Robles, a distinguished writer, journalist and an established pro-Duterte critic, recently published article at the Manila Times which blatantly revealed a significantly disturbing and worrisome scheme involving the Philippine Health Insurance Agency, PhilHealth.

Tracing the roots of the said anomaly, Robles pinpointed the Aquino administration along with some of its high-ranking officials as the major culprits of the controversy.

Robles, who started his post with an exclamatory statement, nitpicked on the illicit and suspicious realignment or diversion of funds surmounting to P10.6 Billion originally intended to fund the premiums of senior citizens. That comes vis-à-vis the controversial P3.5 Billion Dengvaxia vaccine controversy still concocted by the Aquino administration.

Among those whom Robles mentioned in his post were former President Noynoy Aquino, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, former PhilHealth President Alexander Padilla, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Aquino's then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

These individuals, as the International Law expert put it on her post, connived together to actualize the seriously bothering and worrisome issue of illicitly realigned multi-billion budget of senior citizen PhilHealth members for health facilities which until now barely reached 10% completion rate.

Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the joint oversight panel, also expressed his sentiment on the issue.

"The diversion of the PhilHealth fund intended for the benefits of senior citizens, for me, is a heinous act three times more cruel than the Dengvaxia fiasco, I can only describe this act as heartless and insensitive to the condition of our senior citizens," Ejercito claimed.

Robles' elucidation of the subject matter reads:

“It all started, according to Ruben John Basa, PhilHealth chief operating officer, when Congress in 2015 approved the allocation of P37 billion in the national budget to pay for premiums of indigents, low-income earners, barangay workers and senior citizens after the agency lobbied to replenish its dwindling reserve fund. However, Aquino vetoed the allocation and declared that premiums and benefits for senior citizens shall be funded through unprogrammed funds of the 2015 national budget, amounting P10.6 billion.

Basa told Ejercitos committee that soon afterwards, Garin and the then president of PhilHealth, Alexander Padilla, wrote Abad requesting the transfer of P10.6 billion parked in the Miscellaneous Personnel and Benefits Fund of the 2015 national budget and intended for the senior citizens benefits and premiums. Garin and Padilla, in a joint letter, requested Abad to immediately release the fund to augment a health facilities enhancement program that principally involved building health centers.

Basa said the PhilHealth board was not aware of the request to transfer the fund. The matter was not presented nor approved by the Philhealth board of directors, he said.

That was in August 2015. Incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque confirmed that Garin and Padillas request was made without the approval of the PhilHealth board of directors.

He added that the proposal to divert the funds was made without considering the actuarial life of PhilHealth, which was already reeling from charges that it could not pay the health benefits of members seeking treatment in private hospitals.

In fact, according to Duque, the diversion caused the reduction of the life of PhilHealths reserve fund to 10 months, way below the 24 months reserve mandated by law.

And to make matters even worse, Duque told the joint committee that the health center building program was an unqualified failure, with only 217 of 3,200 rural health centers supposed to be built given certificates of completion.

And yet, Abad and Ochoa both approved the request for the fund diversion, which was made, Duque said, at around the same time that Garin proposed the approval of the Dengvaxia vaccination program.

Needless to say, Aquino himself approved both the dengue vaccine and the health center construction schemes.

Last March, PhilHealth filed graft charges against both Garin and Padilla in connection with the alleged fund diversion scandal; the two have stridently denied the allegations. No such charges have been lodged against Ochoa, Abad and Aquino, although the latest revelations will probably result in them being filed soon.

In the meantime, I suggest that Aquino check on the structural strength of the steel gates he had put up along Times Street to barricade his home. Because they have to be strong enough to protect him not only from the families of the children who got sick or breathe one's last after being injected with Dengvaxia, but also from hordes of senior citizens who lost their medical benefits because of the diversion of funds intended to pay their insurance premiums." 


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Source: Paula Defensor Knack, Jojo Robles | Manila Times