The despicable state of affairs at PhilHealth

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    ‘If the officials over at PhilHealth don’t get it yet, these are some of the reasons why the public wants to you to answer all these allegations—we contribute our hard-earned money to be able to provide a minimal benefit when we need it. And yet, there is a certain callousness and reticence that is on full display when the time of accountability is due.’

    PERHAPS one of the worse things that the public has to deal with during an unprecedented pandemic is hearing that PhilHealth, the government’s main health and insurance body, is wracked by a massive corruption scandal. Every employee is mandated to be a member of PhilHealth, which means that a portion of our paychecks go to pay our premiums, with the expectation of some sort of benefit whenever we need to be confined at a hospital, or for medical procedures that are covered by your insurance.

    While those who can afford to buy medical insurance or health coverage from private companies do so, the reality is most of ordinary Filipinos rely solely on the benefits provided by PhilHealth. We see in our pay slips every month – the lowest amount docked off per month is P300, the biggest being P1,800. While that may be a small amount for some, three hundred pesos can be the difference between three meals in one day, or none; commuting fare for three days, or walking to work.

    If the officials over at PhilHealth don’t get it yet, these are some of the reasons why the public wants to you to answer all these allegations—we contribute our hard-earned money to be able to provide a minimal benefit when we need it. And yet, there is a certain callousness and reticence that is on full display when the time of accountability is due. Did you really procure overpriced software and computers? Is it true, as alleged by some hospital owners, that their collectibles from PhilHealth have become so huge that some of the hospitals are in danger of closing down? These are all valid questions that you must answer to the satisfaction of the public, ladies and gentlemen of PhilHealth.

    Had it not been for the investigation called by the Senate, we would not have known that two of PhilHealth’s top officers are grappling with serious illnesses. While I do not wish them ill health-wise, why was this kept from the public, and brought out at a time when the nation needs to hear their explanations? And did it ever cross their mind that these illnesses should have led them to leave their positions, knowing that their physical conditions limited their capability to serve the public?

    To the leadership of PhilHealth, we don’t need excuses. We don’t need to hear your whining about the lack of respect for your privacy. We also do not need motherhood statements and platitudes from any of you, at a time when Filipinos need medical assistance the most, in the midst of this pandemic. The number being thrown around is horrifying—P15 billion allegedly lost to corruption. At a time when the President keeps reminding people that the country needs to borrow money in order to support government programs to fight COVID-19, the news of P15 billion lining the pockets of a few is not just criminal, it’s downright evil.