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UBOS ANG BUDGET〡Pondo para sa mga Senior Citizens inubos ni Garin, PNoy?

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has filed a graft complaint against former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former PhilHealth president Alexander Padilla in connection with the alleged diversion of P10.69 billion meant for senior citizens to the construction of rural health clinics in 2015.
In a complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman on March 27 and made public only recently, PhilHealth said the reallocation of the amount was “not sanctioned or approved” by its board of directors.

The state insurer’s financial viability took a hit due to the loss of the amount meant to compensate for the benefits received by senior citizens in 2015, according to the complaint filed by its interim president, Celestina Ma. Jude de la Serna.

Aside from causing undue injury to PhilHealth, Garin was accused of gross inexcusable negligence for allegedly ignoring then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s veto message providing for the senior citizens’ premiums to be

taken from the unprogrammed funds of the Department of Health (DOH).

Waiving of ‘rights’

Garin and Padilla allegedly did not seek the board’s approval before waiving PhilHealth’s “rights” to the unprogrammed funds and requesting the amount’s diversion to the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP).

The complaint stated that Padilla originally wrote Garin on April 28, 2015, to request P10.11 billion as payment for the health insurance premium subsidy of senior citizens, then a newly created category in the insurance program.

On Aug. 5, 2015, however, Garin and Padilla jointly wrote then Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to request the immediate release of the unprogrammed appropriations to augment the HFEP.

The projects include the construction of “Tamang Serbisyo para sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya (TSeKAP)” health stations in some public schools, equipment for barangay health stations, and the upgrade of infrastructure and equipment for rural health units and urban health centers.

Instead of using the appropriations, Garin, in an Aug. 28, 2015, letter, informed Abad that the senior citizens’ premiums would be paid from the income of government hospitals under the DOH Medical Assistance Program (MAP).

Budget support

Padilla, however, wrote two letters dated Dec. 17, 2015, and Feb. 29, 2016, requesting budgetary support from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as subsidy for the premiums of 5.44 million senior citizens in 2015.

On Sept. 5, 2017, PhilHealth requested at least P1.689 billion from the MAP fund to pay for the insurance premium of 703,750 members who availed themselves of PhilHealth benefits in 2015.

But DOH Financial Management Services Director Laureano Cruz on Oct. 20, 2017, informed PhilHealth that the MAP fund had been exhausted, despite Garin’s previous assurance that these could be used to pay for the senior citizens’ insurance premium.

Garin did not respond to requests for comment. But in an interview with GMA News TV program “News to Go” on Wednesday, she denied that PhilHealth even had funds earmarked for senior citizens.

“In the first place, there was no fund in PhilHealth to the amount of P10.6 billion,” she said. “It’s not directly earmarked for the senior citizens. It is unprogrammed funds for health expenditure that may be used for PhilHealth.”

Garin added that she “supported” PhilHealth’s efforts to collect the amounts due the fund from the DBM.

The controversy is also the subject of ongoing congressional inquiries in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Senior Citizens Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. raised the issue in a Jan. 22, 2018, privilege speech.

UBOS ANG BUDGET〡Pondo para sa mga Senior Citizens inubos ni Garin, PNoy? UBOS ANG BUDGET〡Pondo para sa mga Senior Citizens inubos ni Garin, PNoy? Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 4:09:00 AM Rating: 5

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