Duterte to PhilHealth: ‘Cover more medical needs’


MANILA – The prevailing Covid-19 pandemic shows that it’s not a time to be thrifty, President Rodrigo Duterte said late Monday night.

In a pre-recorded public address, Duterte urged Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) President and CEO Dante Gierran to exhaust their resources to cover more medical needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If the pandemic is there and the beds are intended to be rolled out…sabi ko kay Gierran huwag ka magtipid, hindi ito panahon sa tipid (I told Gierran, don’t save money, it’s not a time to be thrifty),” Duterte said.

Duterte earlier directed PhilHealth to cover fees incurred by Covid-19 patients waiting in tents and other facilities set up on hospital grounds as they await admission.

He said it is better to have spent money for excess medical needs than suffering from a lack of them.

“Ilarga mo lahat ‘yan kailangan ng tao. Miski hindi pa kailangan ilagay mo lang diyan tutal aabot rin ‘yan (Move forward with it if it’s needed by people. Even if it’s not needed yet, place it there since it might be used eventually),” he added.

Should their spending be questioned, he said they could easily reason out that there was no way to determine how many people would require medical attention.

“Pagdating ng panahon ‘O bakit ka bumili ng sobra?’ Bakit? Is there a way of knowing how many or how few ang matamaan ng Covid (If the time comes they ask ‘Why did you buy too much? Why? Is there a way of knowing how many will contract Covid)?” he said.

Duterte encouraged all departments and agencies to spend funds as long as they are necessary for government efforts to respond to the health crisis.

“Do not be afraid to spend money because that is intended to be spent. Kaya nilalagay natin ‘yan sa budget tapos para gastusin (That’s why we include it in the budget because it’s meant to be spent),” he said.

He said they could simply write him a letter explaining why the said purchases were necessary.

Duterte vowed to vouch for them if their spending would ever be questioned.

Huwag kayong matakot maggastos (Don’t be afraid to spend). Just follow rules…If it is really good masabi ninyo you justify it the moment pagbili ninyo. Nandiyan ako sa likod niyo (you can just justify it the moment you purchase it. I am right behind you) And I will vouch for you if the transaction is legal and right,” he said.

Duterte, however, warned Cabinet officials from engaging in corrupt practices.

“But if it is wrong and there’s money involved at p*t*ng*n*,” he said.

Last week, Duterte urged PhilHealth to expedite the payment of claims of hospitals.

PhilHealth earlier approved the application of a debit-credit payment method (DCPM) to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to health care facilities (HCFs) during the state of public health emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic.Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Duterte’s directive resulted in more public and private hospitals dedicating rooms and beds to Covid-19 patients.