President Rodrigo Duterte on August 31, 2020, ordered the reshuffling of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Duterte gave this directive to newly appointed PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero who attended the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) meeting on August 31, 2020.
“I called Jagger, si Guerrero dito, Commissioner, sabi ko sa kanya (I said), ‘I want to see a reshuffle of the different regional offices within the next two or three days.’ That goes for the (National Bureau of Investigation) pati PhilHealth,” he said in a recorded public address.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go later clarified that Duterte was only referring to the PhilHealth and BOC.
Duterte said he will issue a memorandum on his order for those who refused to vacate their posts despite being linked to corruption.
“Iyong mga tao na ayaw tanggalin, ibigay mo ‘yung pangalan nila (Those who refuse to be removed, give me their names), I will send them a memorandum,” he said.
He was particularly referring to PhilHealth regional vice presidents.
“You study on that and ‘yung lahat ng ano (all those) — mga regional vice presidents, tanggalin ninyo (remove them) whether performing at par or in parity with the other good ones,” he said.
Earlier, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommended the sacking of all PhilHealth regional directors following allegations that they were part of a mafia manipulating the state insurer’s financial records.
Gierran replaced former PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales who resigned on Aug. 26 after admitting to have been diagnosed with lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes.
According to Duterte, Gierran is a lawyer and a certified public accountant who was former NBI regional director for Davao before he was appointed NBI director in 2016.
Under the Universal Health Care Law, the president and chief executive officer of PhilHealth must have at least seven years of experience in the field of public health, management, finance, and health economics or a combination of any of these fields.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended the appointment of Gierran who, he said, has long years of experience in management as lawyer and certified public accountant.
“Hindi naman kinakailangan na talagang ikaw ay health expert para mapagana ang isang PhilHealth. Importante lang po siguro, mawala iyong korapsyon diyan nang sa ganoon eh magamit iyong pondo ng PhilHealth para sa kalusugan ng lahat (You need not to be health expert to manage PhilHealth. I think what important is to eliminate corruption so that PhilHealth funds will be used for the health of everyone),” Roque said in an interview with radio DZBB.
Morales resigned upon Duterte’s advice for him to focus on his health first.
Roque, however, said the resignation of PhilHealth officials will not shield them from possible charges, in case probe results find them liable for the supposed widespread corruption.
In the public address on Monday night, Duterte urged Guerrero to address concerns about the continued smuggling of illegal drugs in the country.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya (I told him [Guerrero]) straight, drug is still flowing inside the country sa (through) Customs,” Duterte said.(Azer Parrocha, PNA)