MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to reshuffle the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) following allegations that the agency paid a dialysis center for kidney treatments of “ghost patients.”
Duterte made the announcement in an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Davao City livestreamed on YouTube very early on Saturday morning, June 8.
“When I come back, I will make the announcement that I am maybe reshuffling the PhilHealth,” he said.
“For the sheer amount that was lost, I have to reorganize your entity, change maybe all of you and install a systems of accounting and accountability. How did the amount get that big without the necessary checks along the way?” the President added.
The President stressed that he believed PhilHealth Acting President Roy Ferrer was not involved in the mess.
“I do not have the slightest doubt about the integrity and honesty of Roy Ferrer,” he said.
Duterte also said that he eyed the PhilHealth reshuffle even if he had no proof yet that any officials there were involved in the mess.
“At this point in time, I have no evidence or proof. I’m in no position to say that there are government men involved,” he said, but added that this would be investigated.
Duterte had earlier ordered Ferrer to submit a detailed report on the alleged irregularities at the PhilHealth, and to file criminal charges against all those involved.
Edwin Roberto, a former employee of WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Center Corporation, earlier revealed that PhilHealth approved and released payments for dialysis treatments of “ghost patients” or dead patients.
Duterte said on Saturday that there must be stronger checks and balance in place in PhilHealth to ensure that such anomalies would be easily detected.
He ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to arrest the owner of WellMed Dialysis and even bring the latter to Malacañang where he would personally conduct the interrogation.
The President threatened to throw the owner into the Pasig River should he refuse to come clean.
“I will bring him to Malacañang and I’ll ask him, ‘Tell me the truth or I’ll throw you to the river.’ But he will be extricated. We’ll not allow him to be drowned – and a host of other things I have still to do,” said Duterte.
Previously, Malacañang had announced the President wants criminal complaints filed against PhilHealth officials and employees who allowed the payments for the bogus treatments to be made.
Even though authorities have yet to file charges against anyone in connection with the alleged anomalies, Duterte urged those involved in the private sector to “just surrender because the Filipino people are demanding for truth.”
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros had earlier called for a probe into the PhilHealth payments, saying the alleged scam robbed real patients who would have benefited from the treatments. – With a report from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com