• The letter that follows is addressed to Ben Kritz and Neil Alcober


    First I marvel at your audacity in asking for my comments on an article your columnist had already written and published days ago. Whatever happened to the journalistic tradition of requesting the other side first to comment before coming out with speculations and conclusions that have no connection to reality whatsoever? I am particularly incensed at the way you stain, taint or otherwise destroy people’s reputations by a stroke of your poisoned pen.

    Let me now answer your allegations. I certainly do not know the reason why you say that we managed to enroll only a third of the list named by Rep. Quimbo. If he had given us the amount equivalent to the premium contributions for a certain number of people, it doesn’t make sense for us to withhold it. He would probably be the first to complain if it were even half true. Unfortunate for you however, is the truth that a letter coming from Cong. Quimbo himself, dated 27 August 2013, requests that 2,729 of his constituents, who are still to be named, be allowed a year’s coverage from the time of its approval. There was difficulty in the initial listing due to various reasons, some names merely duplicated that of the NHTS whose premiums were paid for by the national government, others were already covered in other sectors, and a host of other reasons; in short, the list submitted by his Office and ours had to be first reconciled. How could someone be insured by PhilHealth when there is no corresponding name attached to it? For your clarity as well, the DBM allots the amount as requested by the legislator through the committee on appropriations. PhilHealth then is provided by the DBM with Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) followed by the Notice of Cash Allotment (NCA) indicating the amount commensurate to the number of families requested by the legislator to be enrolled. Subsequently this is even audited by the CoA if the allocations correspond to actual enrollees. So what the hell are you talking about PhilHealth purposively delaying the enrollment of his constituents? For one constituency and then have the temerity to say that “a spot check of other districts around the country reveals the same pattern?’ What pattern are you talking about? That you never bothered to check the facts? That you lied about one incident and decide to lie about all the others? What other parts of the country did you even bother to look?

    Next, let us move to the issue of the cards. It is true that we have an arrangement with the ALLCARDS relative the issuance of ID’s to the formal sector or the formally employed. The reason for this is that this is the very same company that was contracted by the GSIS and SSS with regard to the ID requirements of both agencies. The information therefore is peculiar to this company hence their engagement as a PPP partner. What you of course failed to mention was that no moneys is paid to PhilHealth and that any payment of the member goes directly to the private provider. The so called cost of P90 is not only for the card itself. The entire data capture which includes the picture of the member, the biometric capture of the members fingerprints, as well as certain basic data (age, birth date, sex, address, etc.) are to be incorporated in order to make each card unique. We also required the installation of certain security features. This in addition to our requirement that the quality of the card must be such that it must be good to last for at least three years. All of these information would be collected by the PPP partner at his own cost and it has to move to all parts of the country and get the date capture where the employer and the employees are actually situated. Again, all at no cost to PhilHealth. So please pray tell if you can find better arrangements than these? By the way, you have been grossly misinformed in saying that PhilHealth employees are to be charged P50 for these cards because in fact, these would be given free. Also, despite being unceremoniously denied the chance of recouping their expenses by abruptly cutting operations of our private partners during the time of Dr. Banzon which was based on the same flimsy allegations of corruption, our private partners refused to take legal remedies for violations of the PPP contract. While you spew poison and brimstone in your column, you speculate an amount of P20 and P50 multiplied by 37 to 79 million people in order to arrive at your “imagine income”. This imaginative income you talk about is nothing more than a product of your own corrupt mind. It must really be easy for someone without honor, without respect from your own peers, like yourself, to so easily play with the reputation and honor of others when you don’t even know what those words really mean.

    You also talk of the cataract operations and blame me and the Hon. Secretary Ona of “undoing the stricter rules imposed by Dr. Banzon”. You of course are probably referring to our recent office order whereby we removed a three month waiting period before operating on the second eye as requested by the specialty societies and in response to the problem posed by our patient members. This was the right thing to do and we stand by it. What you had of course failed to mention was that it was already in my tenure where we had imposed a pre-authorization before any cataract operation was made, to which, I believe, already controlled certain unscrupulous practices. Mr. Kritz, I doubt you have the same quality of “whistleblowers” involved in the Napoles and pork barrel scam, so please do not even attempt to compare the trash you have written with what is unfolding in the pork barrel mess. The amount of PDAF hat are assigned to PhilHealth or the Deaprtment of Health are for the enrollment of poor constituents or are made to pay for quality hospital services upon their availment. We have no ghost patients, no NGO’s with imaginary patients, and the premium payments actually refer to real persons. You impute allegations of wrongdoing and yet cannot say straight to my face of anything corrupt that I have done. In fact you are a coward Mr. Kritz and I dare you not to hide behind some journalistic tradition and give me the proper recourse to hail you in court for libel or otherwise as my own rightful remedy.

    All our actions at PhilHealth have been straightforward, transparent and accordingly approved not only by the Executive Committee of the Corporation but by its Board of Directors as well. But more than just the formal proce4sses, we stand proud of our record and more importantly, by the reputation I had built in all my years of public service. The only thing I am willing to concede to you is the fact that out talks with the Communist Party is currently at an impasse due to reasons and causes I will not even bother to talk to you about. Suffice to say that I took full responsibility for it and have offered to resign as Chief Negotiator. I will not however accept your insinuations and reckless allegations because you simply do not know what you are talking about and it is such a disgrace to the journalist profession that we have the likes of you to be given an opportunity to spread such vicious lies. I will also not dignify your gratuitous allegations about my predecessor Dr. Dodo Banzon and myself. Suffice to say that I respect Dr. Banzon and I stand by my own record for all that transpires during my own tenure.

    Finally, I do hope that you publish the entirety of my response to you as I hope you still have an iota of decency and courtesy left in you. This would be my first and only response to you as I refuse to go down to your level on any other item you may deem to publish in the future.
    Thank you.

    President and CEO
    Philippine Health Insurance Corporation


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    1 Comment

    1. Atty. Padilla:

      As a former peace negotiator, you must certainly be aware that you cannot achieve with bluster (I heard your flag ceremony this past Monday was pretty entertaining) that which you are unable to achieve with actual content. As to your astonishment at our “audacity” in not seeking both sides of the story, while I cannot speak for Mr. Alcober (although I do know him to be a conscientious and thorough reporter, as are all the staff of The Times), for my part I got the “other” side of the story first — although I could not (even if I wanted to, which I would not want to do in any case) divulge the exact provenance of the basic information which initiated my piece, as the source was kept from me for that source’s protection (from you, it was implied), that information did in fact originate within your very agency. So obviously you have some disconnects in your internal information flow that perhaps need your attention. The fact that some of your employees are not aware that their PhilHealth cards should be free is one minor example, although perhaps for you indicative of a much larger problem.

      I should also like to point out that despite your long-winded explanation of the plight of unsigned beneficiaries for Cong. Quimbo, you have not, in fact, managed to dispel the basic charge – which was as it was presented to me, sans the bureaucratic wordplay – that enrollment of the affected people is proceeding much slower than anyone likes, or that their representatives are pleased with. That is the pattern that appears elsewhere, and while I can appreciate the complexities of certain administrative tasks, the fact remains that the opinion of some elected representatives and their constituents is that you (not you personally, but PhilHealth) are dragging your ass.

      And I must also correct your “assumption” of which orders I was referring to. Those are, specifically, No. 0041-s.2013, signed by you as COO of PhilHealth on January 30, 2013 (mere days after Dr. Banzon’s departure, coincidentally) deferring the “Requirement of Cataract Surgery pre-authorization”, 059-s.2012 issued by Dr. Banzon on December 5, 2012, and No. 0013-s.2013 of June 10, 2013, signed by Dr. Ona, “Amendment to Circular No. 59-s.2012”.

      I have copies of those I can provide for you, if you have misplaced yours.