MANILA Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday said he would support the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its investigation on all issues affecting the sustainability and the integrity of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
"With the leadership of President Duterte, the Department has taken action to bring justice to this matter and right what is wrong. I pledge my full commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice led by Secretary Guevarra to put an end to these nefarious activities," Duque said in a statement.
To ensure unbiased investigation, Duque said he has "asked the DOJ to include him in the top-to-bottom investigation to make concerned individuals accountable for their actions".
Referring to news reports about his integrity as a government official, Duque reiterated the real issue is corruption and fraud and not him.
"My duty is to act on President Duterte's anti-corruption campaign, and all forms of corruption in the Department and its attached agencies, most especially where the social health insurance funds are siphoned. It must stop and end now. We will crack the whip to implement ZERO tolerance for corruption," he said.
"President Duterte has already named Gen. Ricardo Morales as the incoming PhilHealth president and CEO a strong choice for shepherding PhilHealth. I am optimistic that the new PhilHealth Board will convene soon to ensure increased transparency and continued health insurance service for the Filipino people," he added.
Duque also urged health care providers and PhilHealth officials not to cheat the system in line with the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.
"I appeal to all of you the media, officials in all levels of the government, our health professionals/ health care providers, to unite in the cause of fighting for better health care for all, fix the system, and ensure good governance above all," he said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, confirmed the health chief's remarks.
"(Secretary) Duque requested a meeting with me and the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) this morning to express his willingness and readiness, as PhilHealth chair, to cooperate with and extend assistance to the NBI in the conduct of its expanded investigation of alleged ghost claims filed with PhilHealth," Guevarra told reporters.
Charges of swindling and falsification were earlier filed against physician Bryan Sy, the co-owner of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center, who was accused of receiving payments for fraudulent dialysis claims processed and paid by PhilHealth.
The NBI filed charges of estafa under Article 315, of Revised Penal Code and falsification of documents under Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code against Sy.
Two former employees of WellMed accused Sy of filing benefit claims with PhilHealth on behalf of dead patients.
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.
Likewise charged were whistleblowers Edwin Roberto and Liezel Aileen de Leon.
Roberto, who used to be 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 PHP2,600.
Allegedly, it was de Leon whom he instructed to prepare the forms. Prior to his resignation in March 2018, Roberto revealed that the state-run social health insurance firm paid WellMed a total of PHP600,600 consisting of 200 sessions for dead patients.
There was also an unpaid claim of PHP208,000 for 80 sessions, which he said was eventually paid. Roberto said PhilHealth settled a total of 27 claims amounting to PHP808,600. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency