Duque tells Garin to push through with suit

(AP Photo by Aaron Favila)

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said his predecessor Janette Garin has the right to file cases against former officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) over the P10.6-billion fund mess involving the state-run health insurer.

‘Di mag-file siya (She can file it). This is a democratic country. If anyone wants to file a complaint they can. At the end of the day, (the question is) will it prosper, right,” Duque said in an interview.

The P10-billion fund was allegedly diverted from the payment of senior citizens’ insurance premiums to establish rural health units (RHUs).

At a press briefing early this week in Iloilo, Garin said that her lawyer is looking into the possibility of filing criminal and administrative cases against former PhilHealth officer-in-charge Celestina Jude Dela Serna and Reuben Basa, former PhilHealth Senior Vice-President for health finance policy sector.

Duque, who also sits as chairman of PhilHealth Board of Directors, recalled that it was actually PhilHealth then headed by Dela Serna that first filed a complaint last March 2018 against Garin and former PhilHealth CEO and President Alexander Padilla before the Ombudsman.

In the complaint, Garin and Padilla were accused of using PhilHealth money for the construction of RHUs under the Tamang Serbisyo sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya (TSeKAP), equipment for barangay health stations, and other programs instead of paying for the premium contributions of indigent senior citizens.

Garin and Padilla accused had denied the accusations saying that no such fund diversion occurred since the money did not enter coffers of PhilHealth.

But Duque disagreed with the arguments of the former officials.

“They issued a letter of waiver which means that in that letter the message was PhilHealth doesn’t need the PHP10.6 billion. And, I disagree, because the senior citizens premium contributions are extremely important in sustaining the actuarial life of the PhilHealth funds,” Duque said.

He further said that the absence of the approval by the PhilHealth board and the actuarial implication of the waiver signed by Garin and Padilla “speak for itself the intention to divert the funds.”

“It is very clear on the letters where they affixed their signatures. They are the ones who signed and no one else,” he said.

Duque added that it is a standard protocol that any amount that enters and goes out of PhilHealth should be accompanied by a certification which is important to determine the adequacy of the funds. (PNA)


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