President Duterte was mulling on either abolishing or privatizing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid investigations on the reported corruption and anomalies in the agency.

sotto 2 - Duterte may abolish or privatize PhilHealth – Sotto
Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Thursday that this was mentioned by Duterte when the matter was brought up during their meeting in Malacañang Wednesday night.

“He said he wanted Philhealth abolished or privatized but i said it might be better to wait a few months and see how the new admin[istration] performs,” Sotto told reporters in a message.

Duterte recently appointed former National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran as PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, replacing retired general Ricardo Morales, whom he asked to resign amid the controversies.

Sotto said he also informed Duterte about his bill designating as chairman of the PhilHealth Board of Directors the Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, instead of the Department of Health (DOH) secretary.

“I explained that PhilHealth is an insurance corp[oration] and not a health entity,” Sotto said. “He agreed to my proposal.”

However, he said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was not specifically mentioned by Duterte. “Hindi (No). Only PhilHealth. I was ready to talk about it but he did not bring the name up,” Sotto said.

Duterte had called for a meeting with Congress leaders for bills to further solve red tape in government.

“He wants to further amend the anti-red tape and ease of doing business law,” Sotto said.

According to Sen. Christopher Go, who was also in the meeting, anti-corruption measures were also discussed. He said Duterte also asked lawmakers to amend laws to deter crimes.

“One of the topics discussed was the amendment of certain penal laws to increase the penalties, specifically length of imprisonment for certain crimes. Longer sentences will lead to or will be effective in, lowering crimes,” Go said in a separate message.

Duterte is willing to appear in congressional hearings to help craft the measures, he said.

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