MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday has ordered newly-installed Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) chief Dante Gierran to implement an immediately reshuffle within the controversy-rocked state insurance firm.
“He is a lawyer and an accountant… I told him the next two years will be devoted to [the] fight against corruption. Find people we can send to prison so that we can leave them there,” Duterte said.
A former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief, Gierran replaced PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales who was asked by the chief executive to resign amid allegations of corruption and for health reasons.
The President has also ordered Gierran to “remove (reshuffle) all the regional vice presidents — whether performing at par, or in parity, with the other good ones.”
“You know if they [have been] there for so long a time. The element of familiarity always enters the picture. That’s what complicates things. If they’ve been there a long time, remove them. If there are those who refuse to be removed, report them to my office,” Duterte added.
Aside from the PhilHealth imbroglio, the President has also trained his eyes and may order another reshuffle at the Bureau of Customs which is again being rocked by allegations of corruption.
The former PhilHealth president and CEO is reportedly undergoing treatment for lymphoma. He stepped down from his post after Duterte asked him to resign due to his medical condition.
Morales’s resignation came amid investigations over the alleged systematic corruption within the state health insurance firm.
With it, the President created an inter-agency task force led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to probe PhilHealth officials over the corruption claims which were unearthed during recent congressional inquiries.
The allegations of corruption involve the procurement of alleged overpriced IT equipment; a supposedly questionable release of funds under the corporation’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); and the alleged manipulation of the corporation’s financial records.
President Duterte also said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as already “winding up his investigation”.
“I think he has seen proof enough to come up with an indictment. I hope this sad episode in our national life, in our journey towards nation-building will be somehow corrected,” he said. (ia)