Dispatch from Crame No. 320: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the alleged diversion of PhilHealth funds, a despicable blame-game


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The PhilHealth Board and DOH Sec. Francisco Duque have put themselves up to the big task of proving that 10.6 billion pesos was diverted from PhilHealth funds to the DOH.

It is a big task because it appears that the diversion is non-existent; it never happened. To establish that funds were diverted, they must show that the budgetary item was made specific for the expenditure of PhilHealth Senior Citizens Fund and that, instead, this was used for the construction of rural health units.

The DBM can easily confirm whether or not indeed the charges filed by the PhilHealth Board have any basis by clarifying that no such diversion was made during the term of Sec. Janette Garin and Atty. Alex Padilla as DOH Secretary and PhilHealth CEO, respectively, at that time.

In fact, the DBM certification used by the PhilHealth Board and Sec. Duque to pin down Garin and Padilla shows that the money used for the construction of rural health units for the DOH did not come from any PhilHealth funds reserved exclusively for senior citizens, but from savings from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF).

This is buttressed by the fact that both the PhilHealth Board and Sec. Duque have nothing to prove their allegation but a letter-request signed by Garin and Padilla. In said letter, Garin and Padilla referred to unprogrammed funds, and not to any specific item in the GAA reserved for the PhilHealth Senior Citizens Fund. To prove diversion, the PhilHealth Board must show that the 10.6 billion unprogrammed funds should specifically refer to expenditure earmarked for the Senior Citizens Fund.

According to Garin, the unprogrammed funds subject of the letter-request were not exclusive to PhilHealth but for health expenditures made available both to the DOH and PhilHealth. Yet again, going back to the DBM certification, what were used for the construction of rural health units were not the unprogrammed funds referred to in Garin’s and Padilla’s letter-request, but savings from the MPBF. In no way can MPBF savings be considered for the exclusive use of PhilHealth’s Senior Citizens Fund.

This brings us to the motivation behind PhilHealth’s charges against Garin and Padilla. PhilHealth Exec. Vice Pres. and CEO Ruben Basa is blaming PhilHealth’s bad financial shape on the alleged diversion of the 10.6B fund. The alleged diversion of said funds which, in the first place, have neither been earmarked specifically for the PhilHealth nor even released to it, serves as a convenient scapegoat for the poor performance of the present crop of PhilHealth managers.

Up to 2016, PhilHealth was operating on an even keel, spending well within what it was collecting. If the agency is now in a dire financial situation, it is the present PhilHealth Board that has a lot of explaining to do, because the problem only arose during this administration.

Blaming the Aquino Administration for the incompetence and inefficiency of its own officials is by now already a discredited excuse of the Duterte Administration in denying its own accountability. Add to this the regular witch hunts against Aquino officials conducted by Duterte’s congressional allies, what we have is a convenient escape hatch for incompetent Duterte appointees. This blame-game feeds itself on the constructed myth of so-called “dilawan” corruption that was maliciously propagated since the 2016 presidential campaign.

This Administration has only to look in the mirror to see where all the corruption is coming from. We see it every day, from the musical chairs of appointed and fired officials caught by the public with their hands in the cookie jar.

Two years into the Duterte Administration, the people are already fed up with Duterte officials blaming the past administration. By now, it is already clear who are enriching themselves at the expense of the taxpayers’ money.

Weren’t we promised the best and the brightest? ###

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