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Senate panel urges raps vs Garin, others over P10.6-B fund diversion

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Tuesday recommended the filing criminal charges against former Health Secretary Janette Garin for allegedly diverting P10.6 billion of PhilHealth funds to construct barangay health centers and procure dental trucks which supposedly had not been utilized at all.

In a virtual interview with reporters, committee chair Sen. Richard Gordon said the funds were meant for the PhilHealth premiums of senior citizens.

"Dapat mapunta 'yang pera sa PhilHealth, binawi niya, inilagay niya sa isang project na hindi naman inaasinta ng gobyerno, so technical malversation," Gordon said.

"Ganoong din si [former Budger Secretary Florencio] Abad at former PhilHealth President and CEO Alexander Padilla," he added.

The committee recommended that all three former officials be charged for violating ethical standards for public officials and employees.

Garin also violated Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, according to the panel.

"'Di ko gustong mag-file pero malinaw na malinaw eh," Gordon said.

"Ang masamang ginawa noong 2015 nina Secretary Garin, saka Abad at Mr. Padilla ay kinuha nila ang perang papunta doon para ipambabayad ng premium na 'yung mga 'yun supported premium 'yun, hindi naman makakabayad ang mga senior citizen eh," he added.


The panel report stated that the use of the P10.6 billion "on uncompleted projects for political campaign purposes" stunted PhilHealth's financial growth.

"By diverting the budget, then DOH Sec. Garin and company put in disrepute the integrity of the Philhealth fund and derailed the march to efficient and reliable health insurance in this country," it said.

The breakdown of the P10.6 billion requested for immediate release for Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) is as follows:

  • Barangay health stations TSeKaP- P4.6 billion
  • School-based TSeKaP BHS - P4.9 billion
  • Rural health units - P392 million
  • National government hospitals - P125 Million
  • Mobile dental vehicle - P648 Million

The Blue Ribbon Committee noted that the DBM released P9.39 billion on December 29, 2015 for projects requested by Garin, and P5.36 billion of which were alloted for the Barangay Health Stations project.

"Tingnan niyo ang timing, December 2015 ang eleksyon ay May 2016. Ang Dengvaxia lumabas din ng December, ang timing eleksyon 2016. So nakakapagtaka di ba?" Gordon said. "Ako kumbinsido ako na ginamit sa eleksyon."

The report underscored that only 270 barangay health stations out of the target 3,200 units under BHS Phase 1 had been completed.

The committee report is a product of the Senate hearings last year regarding alleged irregularities in PhilHealth.

The panel also urged incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque to report on the status of the funds that were supposedly allocated for the aforementioned HFEP endeavors.

In 2018, Garin denied the allegations that she requested the Department of Budget and Management to divert the P10.6 billion fund from what was allocated for senior citizens' premiums.

"Bottomline po is, 'yung pondo po is sa pangkalahatan ng DOH... It's not directly earmarked for the senior citizens, it is unprogrammed funds for health expenditure, puwedeng gamitin sa PhilHealth," she said.

Padilla said the DBM did not grant the said request. — DVM/LDF, GMA News