SENATOR RICHARD J. Gordon on Thursday said he plans to hold an investigation on irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) when the 18th Congress opens on July 22.

The lawmaker, who chaired the Blue Ribbon committee in the 17th Congress, said he is already conducting a preliminary investigation on the “ghost” dialysis controversy involving PhilHealth and a private service provider to see if it warrants a Senate probe.

Maraming iba nakasalang, nag-umpisa na ako sa PhilHealth. Informal investigation ginawa ko (There are other concerns pending, but I started with PhilHealth. I conducted an informal investigation) the other day,” Mr. Gordon said in a briefing, when asked what his committee will prioritize.

Mr. Gordon will likely remain chair of the Blue Ribbon committee given the “equity of the incumbent” principle in the Senate.

The Department of Justice has already indicted WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center Corp. owner and Vice-President Bryan Christopher W. Sy and whistle-blowers Edwin C. Roberto and Liezel Aileen Santos-De Leon for estafa.

Mr. Roberto and Ms. De Leon, former WellMed employees, revealed how the company has been filing claims from PhilHealth for dialysis treatments of deceased patients.

Several other WellMed officers and employees are also under preliminary investigation.

“What I’m getting there is that ‘yung sa (on) WellMed, ang sabi nila sakin ang talagang pinag-uusapan du’n ay 800,000 na patay (what they told me is that it involves 800,000 deceased patients),” Mr. Gordon said.

The solon noted that there should be an online system that will allow the Philippines Statistics Authority to monitor deaths and immediately provide updates to the Philippines Veterans Affairs Office and PhilHealth.

Dapat kapag may namatay, dapat computerized na ‘yan, bato agad sa (If there is a death, it should be in a computerized system, and inform the) Veterans, bato agad sa PhilHealth,” he said.

He also raised the possibility of an existing “mafia” within PhilHealth that continues to operate, which Mr. Gordon aims to investigate upon gathering enough basis.

Kung paulit-ulit ‘yun, may tao sa loob na dapat managot (If it happens repeatedly, there must be someone inside who should be liable). The other thing about PhilHealth na sinasabi nila, meron daw (that they are saying is that there is a) mafia inside the PhilHealth,” he said.

Mr. Gordon said he asked his PhilHealth sources to document all the alleged anomalies as he wants the Senate probe to cover everything “once and for all.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan