Ex-PhilHealth official tags alleged 'mafia' members

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2019 10:48 PM

Ex-PhilHealth official tags alleged 'mafia' members 1
A man stands at the PhilHealth local office in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

PhilHealth execs deny allegations

MANILA - A former board member of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Wednesday identified 8 people who are part of the alleged "mafia" within the state health insurance agency.

Former PhilHealth board member Roberto Salvador said the group wields great influence over state health insurance agency. 

He said its members, who have been with the agency for around two decades, have managed to avoid being assigned to other jurisdictions.

“Nag-reresist sila sa (They resist) rotation. Kaya tinawag naming (We called them) ‘mafia’ because they will call their friends and even harass the current administration [of PhilHealth],” Salvador said in a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the anomalies involving PhilHealth.

Salvador identified the "mafia" members as PhilHealth regional vice-presidents Paolo Johan Perez (Region IV-B), Khaliquzzaman Macabato (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), William Chavez (Region VII), Dennis Adre (Region XI), and Masidling Alonto Jr. (Region X).

He also tagged PhilHealth Assistant Corporate Secretary Valerie Anne Hollero, PhilHealth Caraga legal officer Jelbert Galicto, and former Region XII vice-president Miriam Grace Pamonag as members of the group.

Salvador clarified that he was not accusing members of the group of criminal activities, but said they are known to wield great influence within PhilHealth.

He said during a meeting with Duterte in June, Salvador said he told the President about the group.

“The president knows the people and ang pangako niya sa amin tatanggalin niya itong mga ito (he promised he would remove them),” Salvador said.

Former PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer, who was asked to resign by President Rodrigo Duterte amid reports of fraudulent claims in PhilHealth, said he was once threatened that he would suffer the fate of former health Sec. Paulyn Ubial and former PhilHealth President Ma. Jude Dela Serna if he would tinker with the assignments of the regional vice-presidents.

Career officials 

In a statement, the 8 former and incumbent PhilHealth officials decried the "mafia" label.

They said they are career officials “who have consistently stood up against flawed policies and unsound practices of the Corporation.”

They said they have been submitting position papers since 2010 detailing flawed policies and red flags in the PhilHealth system.

“Sadly, these warnings fell on deaf ears, leading to the sorry state PhilHealth finds itself in today,” the group said.

“In our quest to protect the funds, we have been unduly harassed by those who have benefited from the acts we seek to halt.”

PhilHealth has been hounded with allegations of fraudulent claims that have threatened the actuarial life of the agency tasked to augment the health care expenses of Filipinos.

The alleged anomalies within PhilHealth came to light after a report revealed that Quezon City-based WellMed Dialysis Center filed “ghost claims.”

Under the scheme, the clinic received payments from PhilHealth for dialysis treatments even though some of the patients have long been dead.