Duterte seeks raps vs PhilHealth officials in ‘ghost’ dialysis scandal

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2019 04:50 PM | Updated as of Jun 07 2019 05:07 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to file criminal complaints against its officials involved in corruption following a "ghost" dialysis scandal that has rocked the government health insurance firm.

Duterte tasked the PhilHealth management "to institute criminal actions against those officials and employees who wittingly or unwittingly allowed such misuse of funds to take place for years," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Friday.

"All persons involved in the alleged fraud will be prosecuted and face accountability. They shall reap the harshest penalty imposed by law. Nothing can shield them from prosecution and punishment," he said.

Allegations of corruption in PhilHealth surfaced after a former employee of a dialysis center in Quezon City came forward to reveal a "ghost dialysis" scheme used to make fraudulent claims to the government health insurance firm.

PhilHealth officials confirmed the existence of such a scheme on Thursday, noting that the case is not an isolated one. 

PhilHealth chief Dr. Roy Ferrer blamed a supposed "mafia" within PhilHealth for difficulties in investigating such schemes since they allegedly are contradicting the management's efforts to cleanse the agency's ranks amid reports of fraud and corruption.

Ferrer was also ordered to submit to Duterte a "detailed report" on irregularities hounding PhilHealth.

"We will put a stop to this corruption and we will make sure that the law on universal health care is strictly enforced," Panelo said.

PhilHealth on Thursday said it was investigating 2,000 health providers on possible fraudulent claims.