Duque to be present in next week’s Senate hearing on PhilHealth

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque attends the budget hearing at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on August 28, 2019. During deliberations on the 2020 Budget Appropriations for the Department of Health (DOH). Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Following calls of employees for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to speak up on issues hounding PhilHealth, the Health chief will attend next week’s Senate hearing on corruption allegations in state-run insurance firm, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri confirmed Wednesday.

Duque, as Secretary of the Department of Health, serves as chairperson of PhilHealth. He was also president and CEO of the agency from 2001 to 2005 and was part of its board. 

“Yes, I believe he will be in the third hearing. He’ll be attending. A lot of our colleagues have a lot of questions for him. Obviously the buck stops there, he’s chairman of the PhilHealth. He used to be PhilHealth president as well. I’m sure he knows about the shenanigans,” Zubiri told ANC’s Headstart

Senator Risa Hontiveros, in a separate interview with ANC, noted that it was during the health chief’s stint at PhilHealth that the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health flagged the agency’s “excesses in administrative expenses” in 2004, 2008, and 2009.

“The past 2 decades si Secretary Duque lang ‘yung may institutional memory tungkol sa PhilHealth. So maitatanong talaga natin hanggang saan ang involvement at ang kaalaman ni Secretary Duque sa lahat ng mga problemang ito,” Hontiveros said.

[In the past 2 decades, only Secretary Duque has institutional memory about PhilHealth. So we can really ask him his involvement and knowledge in all these issues.]

The opposition senator also questioned why Duque has been too silent on such a big corruption issue when he is associated with the agency under probe.

“Nasan si (Where is) Duque, he’s been associated with the PhilHealth board for 2 decades straight except for 1 year so why is he silent?” she said.

Prior to this, lawmakers have repeatedly called for Duque’s resignation from his post for his “failure of leadership” in addressing the coronavirus crisis in the Philippines.