Sunday, May 15, 2005

NR0512:Oppose Duque's appointment to health post

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release May 11, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Solon to oppose Philhealth chief's new assignation as health secretary

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that in response to the strong opposition of migrant organizations and their members, he will file an affidavit of opposition to the appointment of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation chief Francisco Duque III as Health Secretary at the Commission on Appointments. He said that Manuel Dayrit's replacement was more of a crafty businessman with self-serving political interests tied to those of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's. "Dr. Duque has a questionable record, and his appointment is clearly a reward for services rendered Pres. Arroyo in preparation for the May 2004 presidential campaign. He's a moneyman, not a healer by orientation, and this will simply not due. The post of health secretary should go to an individual who has the physical welfare and health of the Filipino people at heart - not an individual indebt ed to the president."

Beltran said that he has already filed several resolutions in Congress calling for investigations into Duque's manipulation of the funds of Overseas Workers Welfare Adminsitration (OWWA) and the funds' transfer to Philhealth. He said that Duque is being rewarded a higher post by the president because of the unscrupulous moves he made in the last few years to ensure President Arroyo's staying power.

The veteran labor leader said that Duque has many skeletons in his closet and they all have to do with the role he has played as head exec of Philhealth. He said that Duque has not been able to answer charges and clear himself of the accusations that he is the mastermind behind the scheme of distributing PhilHealth cards to community residents with the President's photo as a campaign ploy in the last elections.

In resolutions filed at the House of Representatives, Beltran alleged that Duque with the clear approval of the president facilitated the transfer of P530,382,446 of the OFW Medicare Trust Fund from the OWWA to PhilHealth in March 1. This transfer was made possible by Executive Order 392 issued by the President on December 28, 2004. This order merely amended the controversial E.O. 182 and fast-tracked the anomalous transfer of OFW funds.

Duque has been aggressive in advising the president and conniving with her political tacticians and strategists to release executive orders that would make the OWWA health funds available for use of the president. Duque himself in a memo to Pres. Arroyo in 2003 that said in part "the proposed
transfer will have a significant bearing on 2004 elections and on the President's desire to provide health insurance to 8M indigents by end of 2003."

"If Duque clinches the health secretary post, he will no doubt his powers to further manipulate public funds into the administration's own coffers. This at the expense of taxpayers and the rightful beneficiaries of the public-owned health funds. Duque has yet to clear himself of serious charge,s but now, with this new appointment, the administration is arbitrarily clearing him. He hasn't been able t o explain fully wja happened to the P520 million in losses due to padded or fake insurance claims at the PhilHealth. As the head official of Philhealth, he should take responsibility for these losses."

Duque has also boasted that the P520 million losses constitute only about four percent of PhilHealth's P52 billion earnings, adding that "This is significantly lower than the 33 percent in fraudulent claims under the defunct Medicare, PhilHealth's forerunner. He has offered only the lamest excuses as response to the justified queries into the anomalies in Philhealth and the OWWA."

On February 14, 2003, Pres. Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 182 that mandated the transfer of the Medicare Fund and the medicare functions of the OWWA to the Philhealth. This was devoid of consultations among the migrant organizations and without the knowledge of the OWWA Board of Trustees as two of its members, POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz and Cora Carsola, the only OFW representative in the OWWA Board, had firmly disagreed to the transfer. Ms. Carsola was only informed of the existence of E.O. 182 on June 2003.

Despite formal petitions and protests from OFWs and their families and pending investigations at the House of Representatives, OWWA Board Resolution No. 005 (s. 2004) dated February 2, 2004 proves that the transfer of OWWA Medicare funds to PhilHealth was railroaded by the administration's executives in the labor portfolio - namely Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, former OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo, and PhilHealth CEO Francisco Duque. In congress, various legislators have already filed resolutions requesting to recall E.O. 182; investigate the use of OWWA funds; and annul OWWA Board Resolution No. 005 (HR No. 552). Despite firm opposition of OFWs and their families and the resolutions filed, however, Malacanang went ahead to issue Executive Order 392 dated December 28, 2004, entitled "Transfer of the Medicare Functions of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to. the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Amending for the Purpose Executive Order 195 dated August 13, 1994."#


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