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President wants PhilHealth dissolved

MJ Blancaflor

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President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to revamp the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) anew and floated the idea of abolishing the state-run corporation which has been marred by anomalies for long.

In his speech late Monday, the President said he would “shake the tree” and reorganize the agency’s leadership to get rid of corruption that has hounded the firm for years.

“I will try to begin tomorrow shaking the tree in PhilHealth. I plan to reorganize and impose upon them a single line of authority,” he said.

“It cannot be. These people are already entrenched. Nothing will happen. Either I am going to revamp. Consider everybody resigned there,” Duterte added.

The President also said he would recommend to abolish the PhilHealth to the lawmakers and form another agency from its “ruins.”

Duterte, however, said he does not support the privatization of PhilHealth since employers would not likely pay for the insurance coverage of their workers.

In his speech Monday night, Duterte also bared that he had offered to step down from his post due to widespread corruption in the country, admitting that he finds it difficult to get rid of irregularities hounding the bureaucracy.

“I offered to resign as President. I called on all… I said I have — I became weary,” Duterte said. “Now, can you stop it? You cannot. There is no way.”

It was not clear when the President had said that he wanted to step down from the presidency, but in 2018, he said he was mulling his resignation.

In a televised briefing Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque noted this was not the first time the Chief Executive had said that he wants to quit.

Roque also said that he thinks that President Duterte would finish the remaining two years in his presidency.

“I think he would not resign now since there are only two years in his term. But he would spend the remaining time to clean the different government agencies from corruption,” he said.

In response to the President’s latest remarks, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the President cannot just leave his post as he was elected by the people.

Although he thinks Duterte only said that with tongue in cheek, Sotto said corrupt officials should resign, instead, and not President Duterte.

On the other hand, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Duterte should just be consistent with his fight against corruption and apply anti-graft laws both to his allies and enemies.

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” he said in a statement.

Duterte previously met with Sotto, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez to discuss the passage of measures that would address red tape and corruption in the government.

He even asked the Congress leaders to “summon” him in hearings and he will provide his position on the bureaucracy in the country.

Lacson, in the same statement, said that his presence may not be necessary as the Senate is already crafting a measure that will provide the President “Bayanihan-like” powers to address red tape in the government.

Senate Bill 1844, which has been discussed by the Senate Committee on Civil Service Government Reorganization and Professions Regulation, authorizes the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications to cut red tape.

with HANANEEL BORDEY

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