MANILA -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is holding on to around P110 billion in reserve income that it should use to upgrade the country's healthcare system, Senator Ralph Recto said Wednesday.

At the Senate budget hearing for the Department of Health (DOH), PhilHealth president Rey Aquino said the government corporation has P115 billion in assets and liabilities of P6.172 billion.

Recto noted that PhilHealth's reserve income is more than three times the proposed DOH budget of P32.6 billion.

He said PhilHealth could easily shoulder the P19-billion cost of upgrading the country's health centers. The DOH can only set aside P9 billion of its 2011 budget to upgrade its facilities.

“Imagine how many hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations can be upgraded and improved if PhilHealth chooses to redirect these funds to augment the DOH’s budgetary allocation for its facilities enhancement program," he said.

He added PhilHealth could also use its retained income to increase benefits for its 21.65 million members. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)