PhilHealth execs told to submit courtesy resignation to clean up agency

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PhilHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 2) — Top PhilHealth officials have been told to submit courtesy resignations to allow new chief Dante Gierran to weed out crooks and revamp the agency, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Friday.

Gierran signed a September 30 memorandum instructing PhilHealth officials under Salary Grade (SG) 26 — or those who receive at least ₱109,593 per month — or higher to submit their resignation letters by Monday, October 5.

According to the Civil Service Commission, PhilHealth assistant vice presidents and department managers fall under SG 26 while vice presidents are under SG 27, receiving at least ₱123,839 in a month. Officers ranked as senior vice president are under SG 28, receiving at least ₱139,939 monthly, while an executive vice president is a step up and paid at least ₱158,131 a month based on 2020 rates.

The authority to ask for courtesy resignations is apparently allowed by a 2019 PhilHealth board resolution, according to Gierran's order.

Malacañang backed the move that appeared as an effort to clean up PhilHealth's ranks.

"Atty. Gierran knows that he does not have much time, that's why I think it was important for him to request for all the senior executives to file their courtesy resignations because that's the fastest way that he can reorganize," Roque told CNN Philippines' The Source. "We support this initiative of Atty. Gierran."

Gierran, a certified public accountant and lawyer who formerly served as director of the National Bureau of Investigation, was appointed as PhilHealth president and chief executive officer in August following fresh reports of corruption and fraud in the country's health insurance agency.

PhilHealth is under intense scrutiny after a resigned employee flagged irregularities in the agency's procurement of IT systems.

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A series of Senate investigations also revealed issues on the misuse of the interim reimbursement mechanism for health facilities, benefits granted to dead and non-existing patients, and the non-filing of cases by the agency's legal department against concerned officials. An inter-agency body led by the Department of Justice also probed PhilHealth and is set file charges against resigned president Ricardo Morales and other top officials.

Among President Rodrigo Duterte's marching orders to Gierran is to reshuffle PhilHealth officers, including regional vice presidents, to sever ties which may have allowed irregularities to persist.

Duterte gave Gierran until December to clean up the agency, which is in charge of implementing medical benefits under the Universal Healthcare Law.

"We are confident that he (Gierran) will have very good information that would guide him on whose resignation to accept or whose resignations to (allow)," Roque said. "I hope too that he will be guided by the Senate findings as well as the findings of the Task Force PhilHealth."

Both Gierran and Malacañang rejected the idea to privatize PhilHealth, saying it could sow distrust in the government's ability to carry out its mandate.