President Rodrigo Duterte has asked officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to file their courtesy resignations in the wake of the ghost dialysis treatment scam, Senator-elect Bong Go said.
Go, former Special Assistant to the President (SAP), said Duterte asked him to tell PhilHealth board members, including acting president and chief executive officer Roy Ferrer, and regional vice presidents to tender their courtesy resignations or risk getting fired.
This is despite Duterte’s previous remark that he has no doubts in the integrity of Ferrer amid alleged irregularities related to PhilHealth’s funding of bogus kidney dialysis treatments.
“Inutusan po ako ni Pangulong Duterte na sabihan sila na magsumite na lang sila ng kanilang mga courtesy resignations (I was tasked by President Duterte to tell them to submit their courtesy resignation),” the former presidential aide said in a press briefing in Casa Roces restaurant across Malacañang.
“Lahat po sila, lahat ng board members ng PhilHealth (All of them, all board members of the PhilHealth),” he added, noting that this would give Duterte free hand to appoint new officials.
Go, however, said the President will first hear out the explanation of PhilHealth officials in a meeting with him in Malacañang.
Although Duterte has expressed confidence in Ferrer’s integrity, he said “command responsibility” should be enough reason for the PhilHealth chief to step down.
“Kung di nila tatanggapin, I think sisibakin din sila (If they don’t accept the resignation, I think they will be fired eventually),” Go said.
“Dalawa lang naman po yun e (there are only two options), resignation or termination. Pero bibigyan ng pagkakataon na marinig itong mga board members (But the board members will be given a chance to explain),” he added.
“The board members will be given a chance to explain.”
Go said he believes Ferrer is an “honest” person who may have only allowed the alleged irregularities in PhilHealth slip pass his scrutiny.
“Doc Ferrer is also from Davao, doctor rin po ni Pangulong Duterte at very honest po itong taong to, talagang nalusutan lang po siya ng mga tao na nasa baba e (he’s President Duterte’s doctor and a very honest person, I think he may have been negligent because of the irregularities by some of his subordinates),” he said.
“I think hindi lang niya kinaya pero (I think he couldn’t handle it but) command responsibility, hinayaan pa rin na makalusot sa kanila (he allowed it to slip pass PhilHealth) since 2016,” Go added.
Go, who is said to be eyeing the chairmanship of the Senate committee on health, described these irregularities at the PhilHealth as “unacceptable.”
“Hindi po katanggap-tanggap itong nangyaring ito. Kung sakali pong ibibigay sakin ang committee on health, di po ako papayag na marami pang mangyayaring ganun (What is happening now is unacceptable. If ever the committee on health is given to me, I won’t allow incidents like this to happen),” he said.
“If there is corruption within PhilHealth, those who are accountable will be held accountable.”
“Kung may korupsyon sa PhilHealth, dapat managot ang dapat managot (If there is corruption within PhilHealth, those who are accountable will be held accountable),” Go added.
He said he would call for an investigation into the PhilHealth anomalies should he end up being the chairman of the Senate committee on health.
Go added that he has also heard of the supposed “friction” between PhilHealth regional officials in Visayas and Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Go said that should Duterte decide to replace Ferrer, he would want the next PhilHealth chief to be “strict” and would “guard public funds.”
“Actually, naghahanap si Pangulo ng not limited to a doctor daw, sabi niya yung manager talaga na strikto na pangalangaan ang pera ng taong bayan (the President is looking for someone not limited to a doctor, he said he wanted a manager who is strict and could guard public funds),” Go said.
He said the President would also consider appointing a female retired military or police doctor as among the members of the PhilHealth board.
“Isa sa kino-consider niya, lady doctor na (One of his considerations is a lady doctor who is a) retired military o retired police,” Go said.
He, however, said Duterte could not yet decide on these appointments since the PhilHealth officials have yet to tender their resignations.
Go also said he is recommending the suspension of the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Program amid issues hounding the PhilHealth, although Duterte has yet to issue a comment about this.