June 13, 2019
State-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) continues to be hit by irregularities because previous officials did nothing but fine erring firms, former Health secretary Janette Garin claimed on Wednesday.
Garin, who held the Health portfolio from February 2015 to June 2016, said she exposed corruption in PhilHealth when she was still Iloilo’s representative in Congress.
This involved payments for fake surgeries and false claims, including those for “ghost dialysis” treatments that have cost incumbent PhilHealth Board members their jobs.
“Actually, aside from ghost dialysis corruption at PhilHealth, other irregularities were discovered in other claims like pneumonia, cataracts and even dengue, where patients were fictitious” she said.
Instead of filing criminal charges, Garin alleged the “PhilHealth Board at that time only meted fines to the erring health providers.”
“I still have a copy of my report containing the alleged individuals and companies involved in the corruption,” she said.
Garin claimed to have instituted reforms when she was appointed Health chief, including the “sacking of frontline and managerial employees” and stopping payments to “abusive health providers and doctors.”
She urged President Rodrigo Duterte to ask incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd to temporarily head the agency.
Duque formerly helmed PhilHealth before being named Health secretary during the Arroyo administration. It was also during this time that Garin was Iloilo’s First District representative in Congress.
Under the law, the Health secretary is also chairman of the Board of PhilHealth.
In a related development, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the whistleblowers involved in the latest dialysis scam could be enrolled in the Witness Protection Program.
“These whistleblowers may of course apply, but the DoJ (Department of Justice) will evaluate their applications very carefully,” he added.
Edwin Roberto and Liezel Aileen de Leon, former employees of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center, have claimed that they were forced to file fraudulent claims by the clinic’s owner, Brian Christopher Sy.
Sy, Roberto and de Leon are currently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). All have been charged with estafa and falsification of public documents.
NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin explained that Roberto and de Leon had to be included in the charge sheet if they were to be used as state witnesses.
Also charged were Sy’s wife Therese Francesca Tan Sy, John Ray Gonzales, Claro Sy, Alvin Sy, Dick Ong, Porsha Natividad and Joemie Soriano.
Sy has claimed that Roberto and de Leon were solely responsible for the scam where PhilHealth was charged for treatments involving deceased patients, and had resigned after irregularities were discovered by WellMed.
With a reports from WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL
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