MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he was “grossly disappointed” by the reported racket involving ghost medical claims reimbursed by state insurer PhilHealth to private healthcare providers.
“Huge amount of medical funds were released to cover padded medical claims and imaginary treatment of patients. I am grossly disappointed,” Duterte said in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday before the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Whistleblowers recently reported ghost dialysis claims filed for fake or dead patients that were paid for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. The agency reportedly lost billions of pesos due to this scam.
8888anti-corruption hotline in the Philippines
Duterte was referring to the ghost dialysis claims and fictitious patients of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. The agency billions of pesos due to this scam.
Reporting corruption: Complaint centre
The fight against corruption will be relentless, said Duterte, who also urged Filipinos to report corruption to the government’s 8888 hotline. "Malacañang is open 24 hours basta corruption,” Duterte said in his fourth state of the Nation Adddress (Sona) at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday.
Few men imbued with the will and the courage to do what he believes is right and just — and whatever be the opposition in terms of numbers and noise — makes a majority. For it is not the eagle in the fight, but the fight in the eagle that matters. Believe me, I will end my term fighting.
The chief executive, however, urged the public not to bear false witnesses. “Huwag naman yung hindi totoo, yung makasakit ka ng tao,” he said. ("Don't report falsehood, you will hurt people.")
The Philippine leader also urged the joint congressional session to pass “very important” measures that will strengthen the country’s defense system. In particular, Duterte mentioned the approval of the National Defence Act, Uniformed Separation and Retirement Pension Bill, as well as the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Salary of teachers, healthcare workers
Duterte also sought the passage by Congress of a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) to boost the pay of government workers — including public school teachers and public hospital nurses.
“To the teachers who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, kasali na po dito ‘yung hinihingi niyo. Hindi masyadong malaki pero (what you seek is already part of this. It's not the big) it will tide you over,” said.
Teachers have sought a pay hike following a massive increase in the base pay of military and other uniformed personnel last year.
Despite criticisms from international human rights groups, Duterte enjoys massive popular support at home.
In the May 2019 mid-term polls, no opposition senatorial made it to the top 12. Duterte cited a public opinion poll showing his disapproval rating at 3 percent.
With such high approval rating, Duterte said he is inspired "with determination to pursue relentlessly what we have started at the start of my administration.”
“Few men imbued with the will and the courage to do what he believes is right and just — and whatever be the opposition in terms of numbers and noise — makes a majority. For it is not the eagle in the fight, but the fight in the eagle that matters,” he said.
“Believe me, I will end my term fighting,” he added.
Duterte added: “It has been three years since I took my oath of office and it pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson.”
“The illegal drug problem persists, corruption continues and emasculates the courage we need to sustain our moral recovery initiatives,” he said.
“During that Marawi siege, tonnes of 'shabu' (meth, a potent central nervous system stimulant) worth millions and millions of pesos drug money killed 175 and wounded 2,001 of my soldiers and policemen in that five-month battle.”
“I am aware there is still a long way to go in our fight against this social menace. That’s the reason why I advocate the imposition of the death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs,” he said.
“Our citizens have begun to do their part in the war against drugs, and through the barangay formation of anti-drug councils, and actually surrendering bricks of cocaine found floating in the sea into our islands. I call this responsibility,” he added.
“The drugs will not be crushed unless we continue to eliminate corruption that allows the social monster to survive.”