Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque put the spotlight on the anti-corruption efforts of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) as President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadline to clean up the embattled state insurer looms.

Duterte earlier mandated PhilHealth Chief Dante Gierran to clean up corruption by December this year following the executive and legislative investigations on the alleged systemic corrupt practices inside the agency.

In a press briefing, Roque said that Gierran has followed the president’s order to reshuffle PhilHealth’s regional and senior vice presidents.

Roque added that the PhilHealth chief also consulted medical professionals on preventing fraudulent claims and talked with dialysis clinics after some of these allegedly charged the government for treating “ghost” patients. Since then, the state insurer has expanded its dialysis coverage to 133 sessions per year from the previous 90.

“Nakikita naman po natin na ‘pag binabawasan ang korapsyon, napapadami po ang benepisyo para sa ating mga mamamayan,” said Roque.

Last October, Duterte said he is no longer inclined to abolish PhilHealth despite the corruption allegations hounding it. The president admitted that it would be difficult to create another agency to replace PhilHealth but warned corrupt government officials that resignation would not save their necks.

“Sabi ko yayariin ko kayo yung sa PhilHealth at tinotoo ko talaga. Marami na ngayon sa kanila na tinanggal, yung iba nag-resign. You are not allowed to resign to escape liability,” said Duterte.

The president, however, defended Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III who also serves as PhilHealth chairman.

“For the life of me, I cannot really find a good reason to prosecute an innocent man. Mine is to not really prosecute just for the sake of somebody being prosecuted. My job is to see to it that the rule of law — the rules for or against a person — are followed,” said Duterte.

He claimed he went through the initial findings of the multi-agency task force he created to go after PhilHealth officials but he could not find probable cause to indict Duque.

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