Review of PhilHealth execs qualifications proposed

A House leader on Monday called on the Governance Commission on Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) to review the qualifications of officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and determine whether they are “good fit” for their posts in the state health insurer.

“Amid the corruption and mismanagement issues hounding PhilHealth, it is only proper that the GCG review the qualifications of its officials to find out if they are compliant with the ‘fit and proper’ rule, meaning they have the integrity, experience, education, training and competence to perform their duties and responsibilities,” House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera pointed out.

“It is for the best interest of the nation and the millions of PhilHealth members to make sure that only the fit and proper, as defined by GCG, are appointed to management posts in the agency,” said Herrera added.

Herrera made the call after she pointed out during the recent House hearing on the anomalies hounding PhilHealth that some of its officials embroiled in the latest corruption scandal in the agency seemed to be not qualified to hold their current positions.

The party-list lawmaker noted that the qualifications for the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer were changed just allegedly to accommodate Arnel de Jesus, who only holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. The posts previously required candidates to be career service professionals, and Herrera wants this requirement restored by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

She alleged that the same goes for senior vice president for the legal sector Rodolfo del Rosario Jr., who has no prior experience in law-related positions as he only passed the Bar in 2016.

PhilHealth merely considered Del Rosario’s more than 5 years of managerial experience for his current post, when an Attorney IV and Attorney V in the agency are required to have legal experience of 2 years and 5 years, respectively, she said.

The House leader also cited the case of acting senior vice president for actuarial services Nerissa Santiago, who is not even an active member of the Actuarial Society of the Philippines, whose members must be passers of actuarial exams administered by the United States-based Society of Actuaries or SOA.

“PhilHealth would be better off appointing highly qualified people to run one of the biggest and most important GOCCs in the country,” Herrera said.

Under Section 16 of Republic Act 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, all members of the Board, the chief executive officer (CEO) and other officers of GOCCs, including appointive directors in subsidiaries and affiliate corporations, shall be qualified by the fit and proper rule.

To maintain the quality of management of the GOCCs, the GCG—in coordination with relevant government agencies and subject to the approval of the President—prescribe, pass upon and review the qualifications and disqualifications of individuals appointed as officers, directors or elected CEO of the GOCC and shall disqualify those found unfit.

The law provides that “due regard shall be given to one’s integrity, experience, education, training and competence” in determining whether an individual is fit and proper to hold the position of an officer, director or CEO of the GOCC.

GCG is currently chaired by Samuel Dagpin Jr. It has two other appointive commissioners—Marites Cruz Doral and Michael Cloribel—and two ex-officio members, namely Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado.

Just recently, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the six-month suspension of 13 Philhealth officials amid an ongoing probe on the alleged corruption in the agency.

The House and the Senate are also conducting separate investigations into “widespread corruption” in PhilHealth, which has been receiving the largest yearly subsidy across all state-run firms since 2014.

Herrera earlier suggested that PhilHealth undergo “thorough financial checkup” and “cleansing” before the government considers any sort of bailout for the troubled GOCC.

“PhilHealth should come clean about its current financial standing and must be willing to go through a cleansing process to rid the agency of corrupt officials and employees prior to any government bailout,” Herrera said.