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Davao-based doctor eyed as new PhilHealth chief

President Rodrigo Duterte has offered the top post of the scandal-hit Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to a Davao-based private doctor who is also chief executive of a franchise holder of various fastfood brands, the Palace said Tuesday.

Davao-based doctor eyed as new PhilHealth chief
HEALTH ISSUES. President Rodrigo Duterte discusses matters with officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. led by its acting president, Dr. Roy Ferrer, during a meeting Monday at the presidential palace. Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, one of the authors of the newly enacted Universal Health Care Act that strengthens PhilHealth’s capacity to provide quality and affordable health care to all Filipinos, has described the latest controversy surrounding the state-run health insurance firm as both ‘highly illegal and immoral.’ Presidential Photo
Dr. Jaime T. Cruz, CEO of the JTC Group of Companies, has not yet accepted Duterte’s offer, said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

“The President was still waiting for the response of Dr. Jaime Cruz to his offer to join PhilHealth,” Panelo said, adding that Cruz’s name was mentioned by the President while discussing the PhilHealth issues during the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Senator-elect Christopher Go confirmed that the President was considering Cruz as replacement of PhilHealth acting president Roy Ferrer.

The President earlier asked Ferrer and other PhilHealth board members to hand over their courtesy resignations amid the investigation into how the state-run insurance company paid more than P800 million for bogus dialysis treatments for members who were already dead.

Duterte met with the PhilHealth board of directors at the Palace on Monday and expressed dismay with the state of affairs in the state health insurance company.

Panelo said no one would be spared from criminal liability for the ghost dialysis scandal.

Panelo said the National Bureau of Investigation already arrested the owner of WellMed Dialysis Center in Quezon City, which has been accused of defrauding PhilHealth.

“There will be criminal prosecutions of all those involved. No one will be spared,” Panelo said.

He said PhilHealth operations, meanwhile, would continue unhampered.

Duterte has vowed to go after hospitals and dialysis centers that made fraudulent PhilHealth claims.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Franciso Duque III said he ordered a revamp of PhilHealth’s accreditation committee.

At a press conference, Duque blamed the committee for failing to act on a recommendation to revoke the accreditation of Wellmed Dialysis Center.

He said he would also look at other operating units in the full-blown revamp.

The National Bureau of Investigation filed charges of estafa against Dr. Bryan Sy, an owner of Wellmed. He was arrested Monday while being interviewed by NBI agents.

Sy was brought to the Department of Justice for inquest proceedings.

The NBI filed the complaint on behalf of PhilHealth after two former employees of the Quezon City-based dialysis center accused Sy of filing benefit claims with PhilHealth on behalf of dead patients and taking advantage of a loophole in PhilHealth’s death reporting system.

The NBI complaint also named other WellMed executives as respondents: Dr. John Ray Gonzales, medical director; Claro Sy, chairman; Alvin Sy, corporate treasurer; Therese Francesca Tan, purchasing officer; Dick Ong, administration officer; and physicians Dr. Porshia Natividad and Joemie Soriano.

The complaint also listed whistleblowers Edwin Roberto and Liezel Aileen de Leon, who exposed the clinic’s practices.

The NBI accused the WellMed executives of receiving payments from PhilHealth for dialysis treatments even though some of the patients have long been dead.

Roberto, previously the assistant manager of Wellmed, claimed in his sworn statement that it was Sy himself who ordered him on March 30, 2016 to try to charge PhilHealth with claims of two dead patients amounting to P2,600. He instructed De Leon to prepare the form.

In his affidavit, Roberto claimed that before he resigned in March 2018, PhilHealth paid WellMed a total of P600,600 consisting of 200 sessions for dead patients.

There was also an unpaid claim of P208,000 for 80 sessions, which he said was eventually paid.

In all, Roberto said PhilHealth settled a total of 27 claims amounting to P808,600.

The NBI also submitted the sworn statement of John Cueto, a PhilHealth special investigator, who said WellMed continues to file PhilHealth reimbursement forms for their patients.

Sy, Roberto, and De Leon were arrested while attending NBI’s probe on Monday afternoon without a warrant. The NBI said their case was treated as “a hot pursuit.”

The NBI filed the complaint after Sy’s wife, Therese Francesca Tan-Sy, who was also named respondent in the complaint, filed a petition for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 questioning her husband’s arrest and asking for his immediate release.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that both the writ of habeas corpus petition and inquest proceedings will determine whether there is a basis to hold Sy without a warrant. 

President Duterte on Saturday ordered the arrest of Sy and on Monday asked all PhilHealth officers to resign.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara on Tuesday urged the government to ensure that all those involved in the “ghost” dialysis scandal hounding PhilHealth be held liable.

Angara called for measures to punish those who are guilty and to prevent the same kind of fraud from happening again. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

READ: Duterte sacks PhilHealth execs

READ: PhilHealth chief sees ‘syndicate’ disintegrating

READ: Philhealth shakeup eyed

READ: Duterte: Prosecute all in dialysis mess

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Philippine Health Insurance Corp. , Jaime T. Cruz , Salvador Panelo
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