Emergency powers to fix PhilHealth? Sotto, Drilon say Duterte already ‘powerful’
MANILA, Philippines — Two Senate leaders are not keen about giving yet additional powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address problems hounding the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Both Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Thursday that Duterte already has great authority to deal with the matter, that giving the Chief Executive emergency powers to solve corruption issues in PhilHealth would no longer be necessary.
“There is no use for emergency powers. We will oppose it in the Senate. The President can reform and reorganize PhilHealth without emergency powers from Congress,” Drilon said in a statement.
“The President has vast power under the Constitution and existing laws to reorganize and solve corruption in PhilHealth,” he also pointed out.
The President appoints PhilHealth’s board members, he can file administrative and criminal cases against erring and corrupt officials, the senator also stressed.
“He can order the suspension or transfer of personnel in the entire executive,” Drilon added.
‘Most powerful president’
Earlier, House Public Accounts Committee chairman Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said his panel is “inclined” to give Duterte emergency powers to address corruption issues currently plaguing the state insurance firm.
He also said that the panel is already discussing such an idea.
But Sotto said he would have to look at the proposal from the House panel regarding the kind of power it intends to give the Chief Executive.
“Anything that they would want the President to do he can do now, even without the emergency powers, that is what we believe, so we would rather look at what their proposal is, anong klaseng emergency powers ang ibibigay pa, idadagdag mo, na hindi niya kayang gawin ngayon,” Sotto said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
“Because as far as we are concerned, most of us in the Senate [are] concerned, we know that in this part of the globe, the President of the Philippines is the most powerful president. Mas powerful tayo kay Widodo at kung anu-ano ‘yung powers ng Presidente sa Pilipinas,” he added, referring to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Sotto said emergency powers to address PhilHealth’s problems should only be given to the President if his authority to revamp the agency is not enough.
“Kung meron tayong makikita na hindi niya kayang gawin ngayon in order to let’s say revamp, reorganize or whatever he can do sa PhilHealth, then yes, by all means, let’s give it to him pero kung nandoon naman sa mga powers niya, bakit pa?” he said.
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