Brothers and sisters, under Section 14 of the Universal Health Care Law, it is clearly said that the president and chief executive officer of PhilHealth must not have below seven years of experience in the field of public health, management, finance, and health economics.
However, the newly appointed head of PhilHealth, former NBI Director Dante Gierran, admitted that he has neither experience nor knowledge in the public health sector. He also mentioned that he is clueless about the agency’s operations. Nevertheless, as a certified public accountant, he said he’ll be able to manage PhilHealth’s financing. He can use his skills as an investigator in order to cleanse the agency flooded with corruption allegations. Before his appointment, the PhilHealth employees union reached out to President Duterte and asked him to stop designating unqualified officials because it is the agency that would be affected.
In the book of Exodus 18:21,
Jethro reminded his son-in-law Moses, “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”
In the field of governing during our current state, ability and skill are of great importance because managing institutions that promote the welfare of many people is severely complicated. Yes, it is important for our leaders to be “trustworthy” and “honorable,” and it greatly helps if they have a God to recognize, but in the modern time of governance, our leaders must have proper knowledge and abilities to effectively fulfill their duties. (However, there is no guarantee that people in government who have the proper abilities can be good leaders of a nation.)
In PhilHealth’s case, it would be more pleasant if the technical abilities of the president to be appointed was given priority. Why? First of all, we are in the middle of a health crisis, a crisis that needs prompt and proper solutions addressed by agencies overseeing public health, such as PhilHealth. We have many fellowmen exposed to the disease without a cure, and every day the number of people in need of medical attention keep rising. PhilHealth plays a large role now that there is the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, what PhilHealth’s leaders said before that its funds are depleting is worrying. Because of the reduced amount of collections due to the lesser number of employed members and with the agency’s increasing expenditures for those admitted in hospitals because of Covid-19, it is predicted that PhilHealth’s funds would only last until 2021. It’s still September 2020 but the agency already suffered a loss of P90 billion. Therefore, PhilHealth must find a way to grow the funds it manages, like in investments. PhilHealth is facing serious challenges, including widespread corruption allegedly involving the officials that left their posts.
Brothers and sisters, Mr. Gierran knows the weight of his new job. He was said to be scared but he would not shy away from the challenge. Mr. Gierran has been appointed to his position, and all we can do for now, aside from being vigilant about the steps he will take, is to pray for him, much like what Pope Francis reminded us: “People in government are responsible for the life of their country. It is good to think that, if people pray for authorities, people in government will be capable of praying for their people.”
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