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Drilon eager to drill Duque on PhilHealth corruption

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday said he is looking forward to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III”s participation in the Senate’s hearing on the alleged corruption and irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Senator Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon said he wants to know what the Health chief has laid out to stamp out corruption in the State health insurance agency.

The Department of Health (DoH) chief had earlier said he will attend the third Senate hearing set on Tuesday, amid lawmakers’ question over his “silence” on the issues hounding the PhilHealth.

“Unang-una, ano ba ang ginawa niya? Ang PhilHealth ay nasa ilalim ng DoH. Siya ang chairman ng PhilHealth (In the first place, what did he do? PhilHealth is under the supervision of DoH. He is the chairman of PhilHealth),” Drilon said in an interview over GMANewsTV.

“Matagal na ang anomaly. Ano ba ang hakbang na ginawa niya para mabawasan man kung hindi man mapigil? Galit na ang taumbayan (The anomaly has been going on for years. What measures did he impose to curb these if not stop? The people are fuming),” he added.

“Ito ay para sa health sector. Ang laki ng pera na inilalagay ngunit ang serbisyo na ibinibigay ay kulang (This is for the health sector. So much money has been poured into PhilHealth but their service is lacking),” he  said.

Duque had been PhilHealth president from 2001 to 2005 during the time of the Arroyo administration and later on became DoH Secretary from 2005 to 2009.
He was chair of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and member of the PhilHealth board from 2010 to 2015 and subsequently came back as DoH Secretary after he was appointed to the Cabinet position by President Duterte.

Under his leadership, the Commission on Audit (CoA) had flagged several questionable projects in PhilHealth, which had led the Senate to investigate these anomalies.

The Senate, constituting itself as a Committee of the Whole, reopened its Senate inquiry into the alleged irregularities in PhilHealth after several of its officials resigned due to the perceived rampant corruption within the agency.

Senators are now particularly keen on PhilHealth’s implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) scheme which turned out to be a cash advance program for hospitals and clinics directly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers, however, noted how the IRM was abused and became a source of politicking and corruption in the agency. On Friday last week, PhilHealth suspended its implementation.

“Tama itigil na itong IRM. Kaya mayroong IRM dahil ang bagal ng pagbabayad ng PhilHealth sa mga hospitals (That’s right, they should stop this IRM. The reason why they came up with an IRM is because PhilHealth is slow in paying hospitals),” Drilon said.

“’Yung mga hospitals hirap na, marami silang serbsiyo na nagawa na at humihingi ng reimbursement. Kung aayusin ang sistema at kaagad na maproseso itong mga claims, hindi kailangan itong IRM o cash advances na ginagawa nila (The hospitals are already overwhelmed, they have given so much services and they are asking for reimbursement. If they fixed the system and immediately process these claims, they do not need this IRM program or giving out cash advances which they are doing).”

There is also no need to craft a law that would remove the IRM, Drilon added: “Hindi po kailangan isabatas iyan (You don’t need to put that into law).”

“Ang sistema sa loob ng PhilHealth ang dapat baguhin.  Ayusin nila ang sistema, mabilis na pag-reimburse ng claims, hindi kailangan ang IRM (You need to change the system within PhilHealth. There’s no need for the IRM if they change the system to expedite the reimbursement of claims),” he said. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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