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PhilHealth execs could be reappointed—Panelo

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PHILSTAR

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte may reappoint the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) board members whom he asked to resign if they will be cleared of any involvement in irregularities in the agency.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said the officials met with the President at the Palace last Monday to discuss the situation.

“They thanked the President for giving them the opportunity to serve and they also appreciate the fact that the resignation is based not on the fact that the President mistrusts them, but because he wants a clean slate, he wants a full investigation,” Mr. Panelo said.

He added, “Parang may binanggit pa nga siya doon, kung okay eh di puwede naman silang ibalik o kaya bigyan sila ng ibang position(It seems that it was mentioned there that if [the investigation] comes out okay, then they can go back or be given another position).”

The President is awaiting the results of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe, he noted.

The spokesman also said the President has tapped a doctor to serve in the agency, but did not give the specific position.




May nabanggit siya na (He mentioned that) he’s waiting for the response of Dr. Jaime Cruz for an offer I think he made to him,” he said.

In his official statement regarding the President’s meeting with the officials of PhilHealth, Mr. Panelo reassured the public that the services of the agency “will remain unhampered as operations will continue and will be momentarily run by second-level officials pending the subject investigation.”

COMPLAINTS FILED
The NBI yesterday filed complaints before the Department of Justice against WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center Corp. owner and Vice-President Bryan Christopher W. Sy, along with whistleblowers Liezel Aileen Santos and Edwin C. Roberto and other WellMed officials, for estafa and falsification of documents in connection with the “ghost” dialysis treatment funded by PhilHealth.

The criminal complaints for violation of Article 315 (estafa) and Article 172 (falsification of documents) in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code was filed against Mr. Sy and the two whistleblowers, following the complaint filed by PhilHealth Monday.

Other WellMed officers included in the complaint are Medical Director John Ray M. Gonzales, Chairman Claro N. Sy, Purchasing Officer Therese Francesca R. Tan, Administration Officer Dick S. Ong, and physicians Porshia C. Natividad and Joemie D. Soriano.

Mr. Sy and the whistleblowers were also presented for inquest proceedings after they were arrested by the NBI Monday.

Mr. Roberto, a former WellMed assistant manager, said in his sworn statement that Mr. Sy instructed him in March 2016 to charge a dialysis billing of P2,600 as PhilHealth claims of two deceased patients, while Ms. De Leon was ordered to generate the necessary PhilHealth forms.

Mr. Roberto also disclosed that before his resignation in March 2018, a total of P600,600 from 200 dialysis sessions were settled by PhilHealth to WellMed for patients who already died.

A total of 80 dialysis sessions worth P208,000 were unpaid as of March 2018, but have been paid since, Mr. Roberto said in the statement.

A number of claims were also allegedly made by Ms. De Leon following instructions from Mr. Sy.

Harry L. Roque, legal counsel of the whistleblowers, said the complaint against his clients and Mr. Sy has been submitted for resolution.

He added that they wanted to immediately submit the case for resolution because “we have a pending application into the witness protection program and they have to be charged according to the provision of the witness protection.”

In another development, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 denied the petition of Mr. Sy for writ of habeas corpus citing that the NBI had no ground for his warrantless arrest and detention.

“The instant petition is denied. The singular function of a petition for habeas corpus is to inquire into the cause of detention of a person… That there is no probable cause for the warrantless arrest of the subject has been held not a valid ground for the issuance of a Writ of Habeas Corpus,” the court decision states. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Vann Marlo M. Villegas