MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - President Benigno Aquino III has appointed former Health Undersecretary Alexander Padilla as CEO and president of Philhealth.
Padilla has spearheaded the government's battle against tobacco and the passing of the sin tax measure. Additional tax collections from "sin" products, like cigarettes and alcohol, are earmarked for tobacco farmers' livelihood and will cover premium payments of the poorest families under the universal health care program administered by Philhealth.
Padilla is the incumbent head of the government peace panel negotiating with the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF). The peace talks between both sides have been suspended.
Malacañang said the President has already approved the nomination of Padilla as CEO and President of Philhealth. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, in a letter to the Philhealth board on June 13, said: "I am pleased to inform you that the President has approved the nomination of Mr. Alexander Padilla as President/CEO of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC)."
Padilla replaces Dr Eduardo Banzon, who quit as CEO and president of the Philippine Health Insurance Insurance Corp in January this year. It was a surprise resignation. Health Secretary Enrique Ona served as OIC.
Asked whether Padilla can do both - manage Philhealth and negotiate with communist rebels, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigal Valte said: "He's not just chair of govt panel he has been doing things at the same time for a while, so this idea to divide (responsibilities) is not novel, not new, he has always performed well in the past."
Valte however dropped broad hints Padila would leave the peace panel. "[He had] no problem with how he managed to juggle his tasks. However, looking forward, I'm not quite sure what his status will be given his own frustrations on how the [peace] talks are going."
Philhealth is the government's national health insurance program aimed at providing affordable health care to Filipinos.
Universal health care coverage is one of President Aquino’s key campaign promises and financing via Philhealth is key to achieving this.
The implementation of the proposed premium increase has been postponed for several times now. Initially scheduled to take effect by July 2012, implementation was postponed to October of the same year. Come October, implementation got further postponed to January 2013. - Rappler.com