Senator Raffy Tulfo lambasted Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., the new acting president of PhilHealth, after Ledesma said he personally does not see corruption happening in the agency.
During the inquiry of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography on the several measures amending the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, Tulfo asked Ledesma to clean and remove the corrupt personnel in PhilHealth.
“Maybe you should clean PhilHealth. Investigate those who are involved in corruption. From then on, we will believe that PhilHealth will do better,” Tulfo, quoted by GMA News, said.
Ledesma, however, said, “personally, I don’t know if there’s all this talk—if it’s there, if it’s not there.” He added that he has “been actively looking since I joined, although I’m telling you, so far, I don’t see any corruption.”
While admitting that he promised President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that he would address the possible shortcomings of PhilHealth, Ledesma, who took his oath on November 24 last year, appealed to the committee to give him a “honeymoon period” to do so, GMA News further reported.
Tulfo said he was “offended” by Ledesma’s “no corruption” remark, considering that there have been investigations into the alleged corruption involving PhilHealth’s fund, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That issue has been in the media, and it has spread. Issues on the bogus claims were repeated over and over in the media, some were already investigated, but you still say you don’t see any corruption,” Tulfo said.
Tulfo, quoted by GMA News, further told Ledesma that “you have to accept that there is a real problem in PhilHealth.”
“Don’t be in denial and say that you are clean. Then, I’m sorry, sir, then you are not good for that position. For you to be able to clean your organization that has been tarnished with corruption, first you have to accept that there is really corruption. Don’t be in denial. That’s
the only way you can solve the problem,” Tulfo further said.
In October 2020, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed graft and malversation complaints against several PhilHealth executives, including former PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, over alleged anomalies in the state health insurer’s Interim Reimbursement
Former President Rodrigo Duterte also formed an inter-agency body to probe the corruption allegations in PhilHealth.
Ledesma said he did his own research on the issue, but said that he does not want to “falsely accuse anybody” until there is hard evidence to prove the corruption claims.
Tulfo said that with this statement, the PhilHealth chief is seemingly shielding all those involved in the allegation.
“I feel sorry about you. I feel sorry about PhilHealth if it is run by someone like you. I feel sorry about PhilHealth and all members if this is your style of running PhilHealth. I’m sorry. Unless you change your perspective on how to operate an agency that is well-known to be graft-ridden for a year or two or for many years now, nothing will change,” Tulfo said.
Senator JV Ejercito, principal author of the UHC law, said that the Senate would call for a separate hearing to discuss the corruption issues and other problems hounding PhilHealth.