Amid the alleged corruption scandal plaguing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Senator Christopher “Bong” Go guaranteed in an interview that President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration will intensify the fight against corruption in the last two years in his term.

“Sabi ng Pangulo, ‘di siya titigil na lalabanan ang korapsyon. The next two years, sabi n’ya magwawala po siya. Ibig sabihin ‘magwawala’, gagawin niya ang lahat, sasagasaan n’ya ang dapat sagasaan… gagawin niya ang lahat para sa Pilipino,” Go said in an interview.

Go also mentioned that he was reminded by President Duterte to speak up against corruption regardless if it will involve political allies or fellow public officials.

“Ako naman, pinapaalala n’ya sa akin, sabi nya, ‘ikaw, Bong, kahit na ally tayo, kahit mga kasamahan natin sa gobyerno, ‘pag pumasok sa katiwalian, magsalita ka. Kahit magsalita ka na like an opposition, magsalita ka basta may nakikita kang katiwalian sa gobyerno ‘yan’,” Go said, echoing the words of the President.

For his part, Go challenged the executive department, particularly the Department of Justice which leads the Task Force recently created by the President, to bring to justice those responsible for anomalous acts and put an end to the deeply-rooted and systemic corruption in government.

“I am challenging the Executive Department, especially Secretary (Menardo) Guevarra, Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea. Pwede rin po nilang i-tap ang PACC (Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission) rito kasama rin ‘yan sa order ng Pangulo para tumulong,” Go said.

“Tulungan n’yo po ang Pilipino. Totohanin n’yo po. Ikulong n’yo po, lalung lalo na ang mga magnanakaw na nagsasamantala sa pera ng tao. Alam n’yo napakahalaga ng bawat piso sa bawat Pilipino ngayong panahong ito,” he appealed.

Earlier, Go, who is also chair of the Senate Committee on Health, enjoined all agencies of government to cooperate and support the efforts of the task force. He explained that this was created to focus on alleged irregularities in the PhilHealth, but eventually can also cover other agencies plagued with deeply rooted and systemic issues of corruption.

“With more teeth, we expect this Task Force to discharge its key mandates without fear or favor and with greater haste. These mandates shall include the authority to initiate thorough investigation, conduct audit, lifestyle checks, recommend suspensions, prosecute and file cases, and ensure that those accountable be put in jail,” he explained.

“Habang nilalabanan natin ang COVID-19, hindi rin tayo titigil hanggang mabigyan ng mabisang lunas ang malubhang sakit na dulot ng corruption sa buong sistema ng gobyerno,” Go added.

Amid the ongoing pandemic, Go said that he has spoken with the Departments of Finance, and Budget and Management and urged them to help PhilHealth in the implementation of the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Law given that collections of contributions are dwindling.

“Bago pa pinatawag ng Senado, nagkaroon kami na pagpupulong between economic managers ng Pangulo, Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez, Secretary (Wendel) Avisado. Ako, inilapit ko sa kanila ang PhilHealth, bago pa pumutok ang issue na ito, dahil nangangamba kami, sabi ko sa financial managers ng Pangulo, ‘di katanggap-tanggap na tutuntong tayo ng 2021 na walang pondo ang UHC,” said Go.

“Hindi ko matanggap na pupunta ang pasyente sa ospital tatanggihan doon na wala nang pondo ang PhilHealth para sa UHC. Sabi ko, unahin ang UHC. Kung merong pondo na ilaan, unahin natin ang health ng bawat Pilipino,” he asserted.

The Senator, then, expressed his sympathy towards Filipinos who pay their PhilHealth premiums diligently while allegations of rampant corruption exist in the agency.

“Ako po, awang awa na sa Pilipino. Tulad ng PhilHealth, nagre-remit sila, pinaghirapan nila ang pera, tapos mapupunta lang sa bulsa ng magnanakaw. Ayoko naman po sabihin agad na may nagnakaw o sinuman, kaya dapat imbestigahan ng mabuti ng Task Force at kasuhan. I-suspend para ‘di makagalaw. Kasi kung tuloy ang imbestigasyon at nandiyan pa rin po, patuloy pa ring makakagalaw, wala pong mangyayari,” Go explained.

“Gaya ng sinabi ko kanina, bawat piso ay mahalaga sa bawat Pilipino. Talagang dapat walang masayang. Dapat totohanan natin (na matitigil ang corruption). ‘Yung ngipin, nandiyan sa mga miyembro ng Task Force. Dapat kagatin n’yo talaga…. Gamitin n’yo pangkagat para madala,” he added.

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