The board of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has “unanimously” confirmed the appointment of former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Dante Gierran as chief of the embattled state health insurer.
“The PhilHealth board has unanimously confirmed the recommendation to appoint Atty Dante A. Gierran as president and chief executive officer to the President of the Philippines, pursuant to Section 14 of the Universal Health Care Law,” PhilHealth said in a statement on Friday night, September 11.
PhilHealth said that Gierran took his oath as member of the PhilHealth board representing the program’s Indirect Contributors before a board meeting on Friday.
Gierran’s appointment drew public ire after he admitted knowing nothing about public health and the operations in PhilHealth.
What he knows, according to Gierran, is financial management, the law, insurance, and investigation.
According to Section 14 of the Universal Health Care Law, the PhilHealth board shall not recommend a president and CEO of the state insurer unless he or she is a Filipino citizen, and unless he or she has “at least 7 years of experience in the field of public health, management, finance, and health economics, or a combination of any of these expertise.”
President Rodrigo Duterte picked Gierran to lead PhilHealth in the wake of the resignation of its chief Ricardo Morales. Duterte earlier relieved Morales from office for health reasons, as he is battling cancer. (READ: CHEAT SHEET: Alleged PhilHealth anomalies uncovered in Congress probes)
Lawmakers in August investigated PhilHealth for alleged corruption as whistleblowers said some P15 billion ($309.6 million) in funds were pocketed by its executives. The PhilHealth anomalies have fueled anger against the government at a time when the Philippines has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia.
Banking on the support he’s getting from Duterte and Senator Bong Go, Gierran vowed to end corruption at the state health insurer. (READ: ‘Sigurado ‘yan’: Incoming PhilHealth chief vows to end corruption in agency in 2 years)
Gierran left his position at the NBI last February upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65. He served at the NBI for 27 years.
Gierran’s stint at the NBI was not without controversy, as Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed former member of the Davao Death Squad, had linked the official to the killing of a man in 2007 who was “fed to crocodiles.”
Gierran denied the claims.
In 2018, Gierran defended the NBI’s flip-flopping on the cyber libel complaint against Rappler. Initial information showed the complaint had been dismissed by the NBI, but Gierran claimed “there was no reversal.”
The NBI forwarded the complaint to the justice department, which recommended the filing of a case against Rappler. A regional trial court has since convicted Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr of cyber libel. – Rappler.com