Roque: Abolish PhilHealth and replace it with a new one

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Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reiterates his earlier proposal for the abolition of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid allegations of corruption with the state firm.

“As author in the HOR (House of Representatives) of UHC (Universal Health Care Act), I proposed to abolish PhilHealth and replace it with another agency to rid it of corrupt people who unfortunately are protected by civil service laws,” he said.

PhilHealth was established in 1995 with the approval of the National Health Insurance Act signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos. It is mandated to provide social health insurance coverage to all Filipinos. 

The state-run insurance firm is under intense legislative probe after a former antifraud officer of PhilHealth Thorrsson Montes Keith claimed that around P15 billion of funds had been pocketed by the top executives of the agency.

PhilHealth denied the allegations, saying Keith’s claims were malicious and not without evidence.

Roque, who has long battled the corrupt practices at PhilHealth, admitted that Keith’s testimony seemed convincing and accurate. 

Additionally, the spokesperson is also worried by PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales’ statement that corruption is still rampant at the state corporation without present measures to eliminate anomalies.

“I did not hear steps that he has taken to remove corruption in the agency – that to me, is the most worrisome,” he said.

Roque maintained that the universal health care law could not succeed “unless we rid PhilHealth of corruption.”

“We should never accept that even a single peso is lost through corruption,” he said, adding the funds must be used to provide free healthcare and medicines to those in need. “Every centavo counts, we cannot afford to lose 10 billion, not even 1 peso for that matter,” he said.

Before he returned as the President’s spokesman, Roque called for the abolition of PhilHealth at the height of the ghost dialysis treatment scheme last year.  He was then lawyer of the two whistleblowers of the alleged scam.

At the time, then Presidential spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Roque’s proposal to abolish PhilHealth should be addressed to Congress.

Roque also previously filed a complaint against some PhilHealth officials over their alleged inaction in the issuance of fake receipts to overseas Filipino workers.

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