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‘DOH chief need not sit as PhilHealth board chair’

JUSTICE Secretary and Task Force PhilHealth head Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said an incumbent health secretary need not occupy the board chairmanship of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. on a concurrent capacity.

Guevarra said the PhilHealth board chairman post does not have to be reserved for the health secretary since the agency is a health state insurer and has nothing to do with public health in general.

“I really leave it to Congress to determine what needs to be done in terms of reorganization. But, my view about this is, it is not really a health institution, it’s a health insurance institution. So, I would agree that there is really no need for the secretary of  health to act as PhilHealth chairman,” Guevarra said in an interview over CNN Philippines.

“First and foremost, it’s a health state insurer that is why it needs people who has expertise on business and finance. There is no health issue involved here. I can agree with the proposal to replace [the chairman of the board], not because it’s Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III] but because of the nature of the functions,” Guevarra explained.

He also noted that the health secretary has numerous duties and responsibilities with the Department of Health, PhilHealth and attending to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He [Duque] is just spreading himself too thinly because of the many responsibilities he is attending to. But that is not really an excuse. PhilHealth is an important agency, there should be more vigilance on their part,” he stated.

Although the task force PhilHealth has not found probable cause to recommend the indictment of Duque over the multibillion PhilHealth fund mess, Guevarra said this does not mean that he is now totally off the hook.

He explained that the findings of the task force were merely preliminary as it covered only corruption issues involving Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, information and communication technology and legal sector.

“So essentially what I’m saying, insofar as the areas we have investigated, we have not seen sufficient evidence against the chairman. But it doesn’t say that we are absolutely exonerating him or other members of the board,” Guevarra stressed.

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