PhilHealth temporarily placed under Office of the President
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has asked officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to resign amid reports of fraudulent claims.
Senator-elect Christopher "Bong" Go, who is set to head the Senate’s health committee in the upcoming 18th Congress, said Duterte relayed the instruction to PhilHealth officials through him.
Go said the PhilHealth officials were scheduled to submit their courtesy resignation to Duterte in a meeting scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
In a statement released after said meeting, Go said Duterte was disappointed with the corruption allegations, and wanted a "clean slate" for PhilHealth.
He added Duterte has also asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the incident.
"Gusto ni Pangulo ng clean slate sa pamunuan ng PhilHealth. Kailangan rin maklaro kung paano nakalusot ng napakatagal na panahon ang ganitong anomalya ng fraudulent claims sa pamamalakad ng kasalukuyang mga opisyal. Inutusan ng Pangulo ang NBI na imbestigahan ito sa mabilisang panahon," Go said.
(The President wants a clean slate in the PhilHealth administration. It should also be clear how the fraudulent claims went on for a long time under the administration of current officials. The President has asked the NBI to investigate the incident as soon as possible.)
"Sa ngayon, plantilla officials muna ang temporary na mamamalakad at maa-assign sila under the Office of the President," he added.
(For now, plantilla officials will temporarily run the agency, which will be placed under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President.)
Duterte appointed PhilHealth President Roy Ferrer last year after letting go of Celestina Ma. Jude Dela Serna, who got embroiled in a controversy over her supposedly excessive expenses on trips and hotel accommodations.
Go added that Duterte is also considering a nationwide revamp of PhilHealth. He said the President might also fire regional officials.
Meanwhile, the Palace said operations in the government health agency would continue amid the scandal.
"There is zero tolerance on corruption under this Administration. There will be an in-depth study on how the frauds are systematically committed by unscrupulous persons in and out of PhilHealth. There will be criminal prosecutions of all those involved. No one will be spared," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Last week, broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that WellMed Clinic filed "ghost" claims to PhilHealth as revealed by Edwin Roberto, a former employee.
Under the scheme, the clinic received payments from PhilHealth for dialysis treatments even though some of the patients have long been dead.
Dr. Brian Sy, owner of the WellMed Dialysis Center in Quezon City, explained to the NBI that former employees of the clinic were the ones supposedly involved in fraudulent claims.
The scandal involved bogus insurance claims allegedly amounting to more than P100 billion.
The President earlier noted that he does "not have the slightest doubt about the integrity and honesty" of Ferrer, but that a loss of around P100 billion is "totally, totally unacceptable."
ABS-CBN News has reached out to PhilHealth for comment but the agency has yet to respond.
-with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News