Continuing to work despite low morale

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    ‘The employees are now demoralized… Please refrain from hurling sweeping and general allegations at all PhilHealth employees, especially the rank and file…’

    IT has been reported that the rank-and-file employees of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) have been bearing the brunt of all the bad news and horrible public image of their agency and its top officials, primarily because of what had been rumored before but now has become closer to the truth: that the state health insurance company is rotten and corrupt to the core.

    More and more pieces of evidence of corruption, cheating, and inefficiency are being uncovered by the day, thanks to the continuing investigation of the Senate Committee of the Whole, and of the Menardo Guevarra panel. Here are some of them, just to mention a few:

    * Several doctors complained to Senate President Vicente Sotto III that they have not been paid by PhilHealth. Upon questioning, it was discovered that PhilHealth pays hospitals’ reimbursements and these include the professional fees of physicians. Since hospitals remain unpaid, so are doctors.

    * The loss of funds thru PhilHealth’s interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), in the hundreds of millions, may be traced to collusion among PhilHealth officials, employees, and hospital administrators or owners. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III believes that this mechanism is illegal if payments are made to dialysis centers and maternity clinics, but he did not do anything about it.

    * Sen. Risa Hontiveros told Duque at the Senate hearing that the Office of the Health Secretary stopped paying the Special Risk Allowance of the DOH’s frontline health workers, to the detriment of these medical professionals. Duque himself was not aware of this, and he vowed to look into it.

    * Sen. Richard Gordon said PhilHealth has a huge backlog of liabilities due to the Philippine Red Cross, and they cannot sustain their mass testing for COVID-19 if PhilHealth continues to pile up debts.

    * Representatives of the Commission on Audit and the National Bureau of Investigation are having a hard time waiting for concerned officials of PhilHealth to furnish them documents needed for audit and for their investigation. This led Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri to suspect that PhilHealth officials are hiding something.

    * Duque, during the time of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, used the distribution of 5 million free PhilHealth cards to shore up Arroyo’s campaign against Fernando Poe Jr. This was revealed at the Senate hearing by Da King’s daughter, Sen. Grace Poe.

    Despite all these, ordinary employees of PhilHealth continue to do their work, even as they welcome the six-month preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman against 13 officials of the agency. Fe Francisco, president of the PhilHealth Workers for Hope, Integrity, Transparency and Empowerment (PhilHealth WHITE), said that the suspension is just proper so that these officials will not be able to influence the probe against them.

    “The employees are now demoralized but despite that, we persevere, we still work every day, to serve the members. Please refrain from hurling sweeping and general allegations at all PhilHealth employees, especially the rank and file kasi po nasasaktan din kami and we are now even [afraid] for our lives because the public is angry at PhilHealth employees,” she said.

    Francisco’s request makes sense, and their bosses at PhilHealth should be ashamed.