(UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the deferment of the increase in PhilHealth member contributions as the agency stamps out corruption within its ranks while helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President made the decision on Monday night during a meeting with the goverment's pandemic response task force, his former aide Sen. Bong Go said.
"Pandemic tayo ngayon. Trabaho ng government humanap ng paraan and to make [it] easy for the people," Go told reporters in a message.
Duterte confirmed this in his weekly speech to the nation that was aired after the statement from his longtime aide.
"I will look for the money to fill it up. Maghahanap tayo ng pera," he said.
PhilHealth was supposed to proceed with the increase in members' contributions this January, saying the hike was included in the Universal Health Care Act. The premium rates of PhilHealth members were scheduled to increase to 3.5 % of their monthly basic salary, from 3% in 2020.
The state-run health insurer said that as mandated by the Universal Health Care Act, member premiums need to increase by 0.5% yearly starting 2021 until it reaches the 5% limit in 2025.
The planned increase in members' contributions however was met with public criticism after reports that some PhilHealth officials pocketed nearly P15 billion in funds surfaced in 2020 as the nation struggled to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.