Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's with all the concurrent OICs in PhilHealth?

While navigating PhilHealth's website in order to find information to answer some questions sent to this blog, we chanced upon their "About Us" and "Executive Officers" page here. we couldn't help but notice that there are an awful lot of Officers-in-Charge or OICs in PhilHealth.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong about that. Corporations, private and public, designate OICs all the time as circumstances warrant. What got our attention was the fact that there are quite a lot of concurrent Officers-in-Charge, meaning officers who hold more than one position. Positions that are seemingly incompatible, as the lower designations report to the higher ones.

We find that somewhat puzzling and disturbing.

For example:

A Mr. William O. Chavez is the OIC Senior Vice President for the Operations Sector. He's also the OIC Area Vice President for South Luzon and Visayas. He's also the Regional Vice President for the Region VII PhilHealth Office.

Well, nothing against Mr. Chavez, presumably he's qualified for any of the positions mentioned above. But three concurrent high ranking positions? We're no organizational structure experts, but we presume a regional VP reports to an area VP who then reports to the operations SVP. It kind of misses the point if all those positions are only occupied by one individual. So where's the check and balance? But he's not the only one.

An Atty. Alexander A. Padilla is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He's concurrently also the OIC Senior Vice President of the Legal Services Sector. So we can assume he gives himself legal advice by being PhilHealth's top lawyer and at the same time it's No. 2 highest ranking officer? They say "A lawyer who handles his own case has a fool for a client". We're not passing judgement folks. We just think something's wrong with this kind of setup. An EVP-COO has a great deal of responsibility. So does an SVP for Legal Services. Why concentrate these responsibilities in one person?

Then there's a Mr. Ramon F. Aristoza, Jr. He's the OIC Area Vice President for Mindanao. At the same time he's the Region XII Regional Vice President. So like Mr. Chavez above, he's the boss of himself.

We're not questioning the qualifications of the people named above. The presumption is that they are qualified otherwise they wouldn't be appointed in the first place. But to hold many simultaneous positions seems questionable from a management point of view.

The moment a person is given more than one important job, his or her effectiveness is reduced in half having to attend to more than one set of responsibilities. It only gets worse if one of the positions held reports to the other position held. It eliminates checks and balance. Why would a higher ranking position question the actions of a lower ranking position if the positions are occupied by only one person? How about approval of documents or requests? Do they countersign their own memos or approve their own requests? It's like being a basketball player and referee at the same makes you ask, what's the point?

We've heard that PhilHealth's high ranking positions offer generous allowances. We wonder if these people receive all the allowances of the positions they occupy, or if that's even the reason why concurrent officers abound in PhilHealth's hierarchy. We hope not.

The possible conclusions one can derive from this setup is that either PhilHealth has a very top heavy organization chock full of surplus positions which really aren't necessary, or that it has a shortage of qualified managers, or that top management doesn't trust others within the organization which may be qualified to hold higher positions.

Of course, they can always claim that it's management prerogative, and of course, they'd be right in that respect. But it doesn't seem, to us at least, the proper way to run what is supposed to be a world-class organization.

You, the members and stakeholders of PhilHealth, be the judge of that.

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