THROWN into a snake pit.
This was how newly-appointed head of the controversial Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) Dante Gierran described his appointment to the state-run agency.
“Hindi naman ganun kadali…Because I do not know PhilHealth, sabi ng iba if you’re assigned in PhilHealth, it is as if you are being thrown into a snake pit. Ang sabi, tutuklawin ka ng ahas doon,” Gierran said over GMA News’ Unang Balita.
Gierran, a former director of the National Bureau of Investigation, said that he accepted the PhilHealth post out of respect for President Duterte.
“Ang Presidente mismo parang nagmamakaawa na tanggapin mo ito. Tulungan mo ako. Ang natira na two years na lang sa akin ay gagawin ko ito na para labanan ang kurapsyon,” Gierran said quoting the President.
On Monday night, President Duterte appointed Gierran as new head of the graft-ridden agency, replacing Ricardo Morales who resigned last week due to “poor health.”
Gierran was appointed NBI head in 2016 and retired last February. He was replaced by Eric Distor as Officer-In-Charge.
He had been regional NBI director for Davao from 2013 to 2016 and was training director of the NBI training division.
Morales, a former military general, was diagnosed with cancer in February of this year and is undergoing chemotherapy.
A medical certificate submitted to the Senate showed that Morales was “advised to undergo 6 cycles of treatment during which he will be immunocompromised and vulnerable to opportunistic infections.”
‘Good for PhilHealth’
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday expressed belief that the appointment of former NBI chief Gierran to the controversial PhilHealth will be for the good of the state-run agency.
“Former NBI director Gierran’s legal and accounting background, his well-known investigative skills, administrative abilities, and fiscal prudence make him fit for the PhilHealth top position, and equip him well to pursue the cleansing process and reformation at PhilHealth to their logical conclusion, “ Guevarra said.
The NBI is an attached agency of the Department of Justice.
Senators expressed support to the newly appointed president and chief operating officer of Philippine Health.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who chairs the Senate Committee of the Whole that investigated irregularities in PhilHealth, said Gierran is a very good choice for the position.
“Aside from a clean record, he (Gierran) has investigative skills that can crack the whip in ferreting out anomalies in the Agency,” Sotto said.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson hopes that Gierran will not be manipulated by other people inside and outside of PhilHealth.
“Unang-una galing siya sa NBI. Walang kontrobersya na hinarap ang NBI, maayos ang pamamalakad sa NBI nang siya ang director. On that note, wala tayong masabi na kinasangkutan niyang kontrobersya,” Lacson said.
“I just hope na hindi siya ma-manipulate ng mga tao inside and outside of PhilHealth. Alam naman natin na for the longest time, nauuubos ang pera ng PhilHealth sa anomalya at kalokohan. So yan ang ating pinapanalangin na sana mangyari, di lang para sa kanya kundi para sa ating lahat, kasi tayong lahat dapat sakop ng PhilHealth,” he added.
Lacson added that being the former subordinate of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, coordination between them would be easier.
“Mabuti rin yan maka-coordinate agad siya para kung ano man ang mapapaloob sa recommendation ng DOJ-led task force, ma-implement na niya masimulan na niya maski hindi pa officially nailalabas e tutal dati niyang boss si Sec Guevarra, mainam na unang unang pag-coordinate-an niya ang dati niyang boss,” he explained.
Senate Minoruty Leader Franklin Drilon wished Gierran luck on his appointment saying what awaits him is high-level and deeply embedded corruption which is perfected over time by corrupt syndicates in PhilHealth.
“He should keep his eyes open — never blink — to corruption. A piece of advice: transparency is an effective tool to prevent corruption. I hope his leadership will finally shine a light on PhilHealth which operates in the dark,” Drilon said.
Drilon believes that Gierran can enhance transparency by employing technology. “He must oversee the upgrading of the system of PhilHealth to minimize, if not stop, corruption. He can contract out IT companies to carry out the digitization of PhilHealth,” he added.
With Marlon Purificacion