Press Release
June 21, 2020

Go urges health officials to remain focused on addressing the health crisis and ensure full implementation of the UHC Law; reiterates zero-tolerance policy against corruption

Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go encouraged the Department of Health, PhilHealth, and other concerned agencies to remain focused on fulfilling their mandates especially in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic despite public criticisms.

He made the appeal as the Office of the Ombudsman launches a probe into the supposed irregularities and anomalies committed by some officials of the DOH in their handling of the crisis.

"The Filipino people deserve a fair and partial investigation. Ngayon, sinabi ni Ombudsman Martires, gusto nilang malaman ang katotohanan. Gusto rin malaman ng taumbayan ang katotohanan," Go said in an interview, stressing that it is the Ombudsman's constitutional duty to look into these allegations.

"'Wag kayong [DOH] ma-pressure, gawin n'yo lang muna ang inyong trabaho... kung walang itinatago, eh wala kayong dapat ikatakot. Trabaho muna kayo. Labanan muna natin itong COVID-19. Kapag nalampasan natin itong labang ito, taas noo po kayong haharap sa Pilipino na tinalo natin itong COVID-19 lalo na kung wala po kayong ginawang masama," he continued.

Go maintained that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III continues to have the full trust of the President, stating that it is difficult to replace the DOH chief when in the midst of an ongoing battle against an unseen enemy which is COVID-19.

"Base po sa narinig at binabanggit n'ya sa publiko nung mga nakaraang araw, eh nandyan pa ang tiwala ng Pangulo kay Secretary Duque. Pangalawa, ayaw rin po mapalitan ni Pangulo si Secretary Duque sa gitna ng laban bagama't alam n'ya po na may pagkukulang talaga 'yung departamento, maraming pagkukulang, kaya nga po pinatulungan na n'ya sa mga iba't ibang retired military officials na nasa Gabinete po ngayon," said Go adding that the whole government has been directed to help the DOH in leading the fight to overcome this crisis.

"Hindi po talaga kakayanin ng DOH o ng PhilHealth lang (mag-isa) talaga, undermanned na po sila. Kulang na po ang kanilang mga tao eh, itong gyerang ito hindi natin nakikita ang kalaban. Itong mga dating military (officials), sanay po ito sa digmaan kaya pinatulungan na po n'ya ang ating mga opisyal sa DOH through the help of different agencies," he added.

When asked on the government's progress in providing universal health care coverage, the Senator vowed he would continue to push for the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Law and pleaded to concerned government officials to cease the squabbling so that they can focus on more important matters at hand.

"Magtulungan po tayo malampasan ang krisis na ito. Hindi po nakakatulong ang hindi pagkakaunawaan. Patuloy ang pagkalat ng sakit, huwag niyo na dagdagan ng sakit ng sama ng loob sa isa't isa," he stressed.

PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales earlier sought a delay in the implementation of the law due to the declining revenue of the government's health insurance agency. The Palace, however, echoed the call of Senator Go and other lawmakers that the UHC law must be properly implemented especially amid the health crisis.

"[H]indi po ako papayag na hindi maimplementa ng maayos 'yung Universal Health Care Law, hindi lang naman po COVID-19 ang covered ng PhilHealth. Kasama na rin po dyan ang ibang sakit at iba pang pangangailangan para sa lahat. Dapat maimplementa po ito ng maayos at hindi po dapat maantala lalong-lalo na po mayroon tayong kinakaharap na COVID-19," he said.

The Senator gave his support to PhilHealth and vowed to push for a higher budget for the agency if necessary. However, he clarified that he agreed with the calls for an investigation into the claims of corruption within the agency, saying "Ipaglalaban ko ang pondo ng PhilHealth, pero ni piso ipaglaban n'yo rin ang pondong hawak ninyo. Walang dapat masasayang."

"Managot ang dapat managot kahit na magkasama tayo sa gobyerno at magkaibigan tayo. Kung ano lang po ang tama. 'Yan po ang pinagbibilin parati ni Pangulo � Do what is right," he continued, adding that, "karapatan ng bawat Pilipino malaman ang katotohanan."

Go also asked the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit to look into the allegations hurled against PhilHealth. He also said that he expects Morales to clean up the agency of alleged corrupt officials, as contained in allegations made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

According to Go, the UHC Law prescribes the necessary reforms in the Philippine health system and would address the inadequate access of the people to essential quality health care services. He reassured Filipinos that they can rely on the government for financial and medical assistance amid the pandemic.

Through that 71 Malasakit Centers found in public hospitals throughout the country, patients can conveniently avail of aid from various government agencies, such as the DOH, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Department of Social Welfare and Development, on top of what is covered by PhilHealth. Go is the primary proponent and principal author of Republic Act 11463, the law that institutionalized the Malasakit Center initiative.

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