PHILHEALTH listed as its first of its several missions its intent to “lead towards universal coverage” of health care in the country.
It seems at least one of its local officials believe that “universal coverage” excludes Bicol Region.
Recently, more than 3,000 PhilHealth cards, courtesy of 1-Utak party-list, were distributed to indigent residents of Sorsogon City, most of whom were members of the local non-government organization Aquing Bicolnon Inc. (AB).
During the scheduled distribution in barangays, thousands of people showed up. Needless to say, it drew the attention of some groups and individuals who apparently became envious of the two organizations.
During the campaign period for the May 10 elections, certain politicians and party-list groups promised to provide Bicolanos with PhilHealth cards for free. They have so far failed to make good its promise.
Hence, it is no mystery that 1Utak and AB became irresistible political targets. These envious parties began to spread a rumour what 1-Utak and AB were doing was a scam. The1Utak and AB have become political threats.
Ironically, it was the local branch of PhilHealth, represented by a certain Alfredo J. Jubilo, chief of the health insurance office in Sorsogon, that started the black propaganda against the two organizations.
The local PhilHealth official claimed that his office received a complaint about AB’s “illegal” activity, accusing AB of making a profit out of the PhilHealth cards by requiring the beneficiaries to pay for P100 for each card.
He went public with his accusations through local television and radio programs, urging those who received the cards from AB and 1Utak to disregard them.
Jubilo also threatened barangay officials with legal action if they continue to support the AB in its activity.
However, when Revor J. Lasay, president of AB and who negotiated with the 1Utak for Philhealth cards, confronted Jubilo on air and dared him to identify the complainant, the latter refused to name names.
Lasay explained to Jubilo that the Philhealth cards per se were distributed for free to AB members. The P100 was the member’s payment for the identification card, copy of AB’s constitution and by-laws and other documents.
The AB official pointed out that AB has been collecting the amount from each of its member since the organization was officially established three years ago.
Despite the explanation and without investigating the matter, however, Mr. Jubilo went ahead in sending his staff to barangays where AB earlier conducted orientation sessions and continued his black propaganda campaign against the AB and 1Utak.
Apparently, Jubilo has not been oriented of his organization mission “to lead towards universal coverage” of health care for Filipino. Either that or he is playing the role of a willing puppet for some influential groups or individuals in Bicol.