Politics

Who Is Dante Gierran, PhilHealth's New Top Honcho?

Dante Gierran is one of President Duterte’s most trusted men. 
IMAGE RCManila.org
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On August 31, President Rodrigo Duterte announced he wants Dante Gierran to take over the reins of the embattled state insurer PhilHealth or Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. 

At 65 years old, Gierran is being brought out of retirement to serve as the top honcho of PhilHealth, perceived by many to be one of the Philippines’ most corrupt government agencies.

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Dante Gierran’s Long Career at the NBI

Dante Gierran is one of Duterte’s most trusted allies in government. Gierran started his government career when he became an NBI agent in 1990. Two years later, he was assigned to Davao City, Duterte’s bailiwick. He worked in Davao from 1992 to 2001. 

From 1990 to 2003, Gierran climbed the ladder and occupied prominent positions at the NBI. By 2011, he was already the training director who oversees the Bureau’s entire training academy and division. 

From 2013 to 2016, Gierran was NBI’s acting regional director for Davao City. He was eventually appointed to helm the Bureau when Duterte swept into power in 2016. 

Gierran retired from the NBI in February 2020 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. 

Dante Gierran as a CPA-Lawyer

While working for the NBI in the ’90s, Gierran was also a student attending law school at the University of Mindanao and the International Harvardian University. He earned his law degree in 1993. 

But before that, in 1978, Gierran acquired his accounting degree from the Rizal Memorial Colleges based in Davao City. 

 

Scandals Allegedly Linked to Dante Gierran 

During Gierran’s first months as director of the NBI, his track record was highlighted after whistleblower Edgar Matobato, who alleges be a former member of the “Davao Death Squad,” testified that Gierran was involved in the killing of a man who was fed to crocodiles in 2007.

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Gierran denied all allegations.

According to Matobato, a crime suspect was arrested in Sarangani and then brought to Barangay Kapatagan in Digos, Davao del Sur, where he was “fed to crocodiles” while alive. Matobato linked then-NBI director Dante Gierran, among others, to this incident.

It was also under the leadership of Gierran when the NBI flip-flopped on the cyber libel case filed in 2018 against Rappler president and CEO Maria Ressa. Initially, the NBI had dismissed the case against Ressa, but a week later, it recommended to the Department of Justice that Ressa be prosecuted for the same case. It is the very same case that had Ressa convicted of cyber libel on June 15, 2020.

 

Dante Gierran: 'I Do Not Know What is Public Health.'

Hours after he was named Duterte’s top choice for the PhilHealth post on August 31, Gierran told Karen Davila on her news program that he has no idea what public health is. 

“I’m a little bit scared… because I don’t know the operation of PhilHealth,” Gierran told Davila in an interview on ANC. 

Despite Gierran’s reservations, Duterte has confidence in him and has tasked him to focus on curbing corruption in PhilHealth. 

PhilHealth is the country’s provider of national health insurance. Its goal is to give “affordable, acceptable, available, and accessible” health care services for Filipinos. Membership is mandatory for all working Filipinos, who subsidize its programs through monthly contributions taken from their salaries. 

PhilHealth was rocked by scandal in August 2020 after whistleblower Thorrsson Montes Keith claimed its top executives stole P15 billion from the corporation’s coffers amid the pandemic.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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