MANILA - Lawyer Harry Roque on Tuesday said the owner of the dialysis center that allegedly claimed payments for patients who are already dead should go to jail.
"Dapat, kailangang sampolan (They should be made an example). I don't know him personally," said Roque in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Roque is the legal counsel of whistleblowers Edwin Roberto and Liezel Santos who claimed that WellMed Dialysis Center filed ghost claims to PhilHealth. The two are former employees of the center.
"We need to send a message to everyone in the industry that government is serious about cleaning up PhilHealth; that government is serious in ensuring the success of Universal Health Care," said Roque, who authored the law that provides health coverage to all Filipinos.
The center's owner, Dr. Brian Sy, told the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday that the former employees were the ones supposedly involved in the fraudulent claims.
Under the scheme, the clinic received payments from PhilHealth for dialysis treatments even though some of the patients have long been dead. The claims were alleged to have been made from 2016 to 2018.
But Roque said his clients could not have benefited from the scam.
"Because the payment by PhilHealth is direct to WellMed. It does not go to the employees. It is not paid for in cash," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend ordered the arrest of Sy over the scandal.
ADMISSION TO WPP
Meanwhile, Roque is appealing to the Department of Justice to expedite the process of his clients' provisional admission to the Witness Protection Program.
He said Roberto and Santos have since married and now have a 6-month old daughter.
"I'm appealing to Fiscal Ted Villanueva to expedite the process because they need to be reunited with their child. And let's face it, without their testimony, we would not have known the dead are availing of dialysis benefits in this country," he said.
Roque said the whistleblowers came to him after finding no help within PhilHealth.
"We came across WellMed only because they came to me, knowing that I would be concerned with the effective implementation of [the] Universal Health Care law," he said.
He asked why it took PhilHealth so long to revoke the accreditation of WellMed. He said the whistleblowers first reported the scam to PhilHealth but that the agency failed to act on it.
"The whistleblowers went to them in July. Because it's an administrative procedure, it should be fast that's why its preferred over judicial determination. They should have given them 3 days to explain and come up with the determination. And yet they are accredited one year later," he pointed out.
Roque said PhilHealth must come up with mechanisms to prevent the dissipation of its funds.
"They need to have a system to verify that the claimant is even alive and that the claimant in fact received the services that the health provider is collecting from PhilHealth," he said.