Amid the alleged systemic corruption plaguing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the creation of a Task Force to investigate the anomalies surrounding the agency.

“I have recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to consider the creation of a Task Force to investigate the issues surrounding PhilHealth. The Task Force can be spearheaded by the Department of Justice with the full support of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Executive Secretary. The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission may also be tapped to help out,” Go said recently.

Go added that the proposed Task Force will focus on PhilHealth now but can eventually cover other agencies with issues of systemic and deeply rooted corruption such as the Bureau of Customs which has been perennially accused of alleged anomalies within its ranks.

“Hindi lang naman po PhilHealth ang may problema, alam natin na may iba pang mga ahensya dyan na kailangang gamutin para tuluyang matanggal ang corruption sa kanilang sistema. Halimbawa nito ay ang customs,” Go said.

The Senator highlighted that at a time when Filipinos face a health crisis, the government must take immediate action to address corruption issues through a “whole-of-government” approach which can be carried out by the proposed Task Force with “enough teeth” to carry out its six key mandates: to investigate, conduct lifestyle check, audit, recommend suspensions, prosecute and file charges, and put in jail those responsible for these anomalies.

“Itong isyu sa PhilHealth, halos taon taon na ito iniimbestigahan ng Senado. Naka ilang palit na rin tayo ng liderato, pang-apat na PhilHealth President na ito, at nagkaroon na rin ng board revamp, pero mukhang nasa loob ng ahensya at sa baba talaga ang problema,” Go said.

“Ang papel ng Task Force ay mag-imbestiga, mag-file ng kaso, mag-recommend ng suspension, mag-lifestyle check, mag-audit at maglagay sa kulungan ng mga opisyal at empleyado na mapatunayang nagnanakaw ng pera ng taumbayan. Hindi lang sa mga nasa taas kundi pati rin ‘yung mga kawani ng gobyerno under the Civil Service na mapapatunayang parte ng maduming sistema ng korapsyon,” he explained.

Despite the ongoing efforts to reform PhilHealth, Go said that it remains to be tainted with allegations of systemic corruption, particularly in the middle to lower levels of its organization and the approach cannot simply rely on its leadership to cleanse its ranks.

“Paano matutulungan ng PhilHealth ang mga Pilipinong kailangan magpagamot kung ang sarili nitong sakit sa loob ng ahensya ay hindi nito magamot?,” he said.

Go also noted that the government’s campaign against corruption and criminality continues as President Duterte is firm in his goal to put a stop to these anomalies.

“Exhausted na po ang ating Pangulo pero hindi po siya titigil na labanan ang corruption until the last day of his term. Umabot na sa punto na sinabihan niya ako ‘to talk like an opposition’ kapag corruption na ang pinag-uusapan,” Go said.

Go also stressed the crucial role that PhilHealth is fulfilling at this time, being the main implementer of the Universal Health Care Act.

“Huwag naman nating hayaang tuluyang mamatay ang PhilHealth sa panahon na kailangan ng taumbayan ng maayos na serbisyong pangkalusugan. As the President said, let us do everything in our power to, once and for all, put an end to the perennial issues surrounding PhilHealth and cure it from systemic corruption,” Go said.

“Pera ng taumbayan ang bumubuhay sa PhilHealth kaya siguraduhin natin na ni piso ay hindi masayang o manakaw. Ibalik natin ito sa tao sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos, at maaasahang serbisyo mula sa isang gobyernong palaging nagmamalasakit sa bawat Pilipino,” he added.

Lastly, Go emphasized that this proposed Task Force will not only focus on PhilHealth but will also look into other concerns to put an end to the systemic corruption in government.

“Hindi titigil ang Pangulo sa kampanya nito laban sa korapsyon. Walang makakapigil at mas lalong walang pinipili na kakampi o kalaban ang Pangulo. Basta korapsyon, hihiritan at tutuluyan ka niya,” Go said.

“Kaya naman hindi ko rin kayo titigilan…. Gagawin ko ang lahat para mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga Pilipino. Sisiguraduhin kong mabubulok kayo sa kulungan at may kalalagyan kayo,” he added.

“Naniniwala akong meron pa naman diyan na gusto talagang magsilbi with all honesty and integrity kaya hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa. Kailangan lang talaga ng mabisang gamot na tatalab talaga upang tuluyang matanggal ang korapsyon sa ating sistema,” he emphasized further.

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