HomeNews AlertPriest urges newly appointed chief of PhilHealth not to accept post

Priest urges newly appointed chief of PhilHealth not to accept post

A Catholic priest urged the newly appointed head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, or PhilHealth, not to accept the position given to him by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Society of Divine Word priest Flaviano Villanueva called on Dante Gierran, former head of the National Bureau of Investigation, to refuse the president’s offer.

“I was told that the former NBI director is a man of principles. If he takes the offer, he throws away his lifetime work and even character,” said the priest.

Father Villanueva, a known critic of the government, said Gierran will save thousands of Filipino lives if he will tell the president to “appoint someone from the medical field.”

In a television interview on September 1, Gierran admitted that he had no experience with health services, adding that he is “a little bit scared” because of his lack of knowledge about the job.

“I do not know what is public health. I don’t have experience [with it],” he said.

Father Villanueva said that when a person “humbly admits that he or she has little knowledge of the mission … he or she should think twice in pursuing the appointment.”

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The priest said if Gierran would accept and stay the position despite the lack of credentials, “the institution will suffer and, in the end, the public will see inefficiency or worst, chaos.”

Gierran replaced former PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, a retired general, who resigned on August 26 amidst allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

The state insurer is now the subject of scrutiny over allegations that about US$308.5 million of the agency’s funds have been pocketed by its top officials.

In 2019, the NBI filed anti-graft complaints before the Justice department against 21 PhilHealth officials in connection with alleged “ghost dialysis treatments.”

Bishop Oscar Florencio of the Episcopal Commission on Health Care has earlier expressed hope that the new head of PhilHealth will be able to address alleged corruption in the agency.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila described the scandal in the agency as “outrageous” especially in the midst of the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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