Resigned anti-fraud officer tags Duque as ‘godfather’ of PhilHealth mafia

Bonz Magsambol

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Resigned anti-fraud officer tags Duque as ‘godfather’ of PhilHealth mafia
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says the allegation is 'absolutely malicious and without basis'

Resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith has tagged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as the “godfather” of the alleged mafia in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“Maituturing ko na siya ang godfather ng mafia (I consider him as the godfather of the mafia),” Keith told senators during the 3rd Senate inquiry into the corruption allegations in the embattled agency on Tuesday, August 18. 

Explaining his new allegation, Keith said: “Doon po sa Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, siya po ang chairman. As a chairman [ng PhilHealth board] mayroon pong due diligence po na gagawin ang isang chairman and considering na he’s a doctor and mayroon siyang institutional knowledge sa pamamalakad sa PhilHealth.”

(In terms of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, he is the chairman. As chairman of the PhilHealth board, a chairman is supposed to observe due diligence, and considering that he’s a doctor and he has institutional knowledge in running PhilHealth.)

Keith said that it was also Duque who approved all the appointments of “almost all of the members of the mafia.” He had told the Senate panel on August 4 that alleged “syndicates” in PhilHealth ran fraudulent schemes through which some executives might have pocketed around P15 billion. (READ: PhilHealth execs misspent, stole P15 billion, says resigned anti-fraud official)

Senator Risa Hontiveros then asked for Duque’s reaction about Keith’s allegation. “Sabi po ni Attorney Keith, kayo raw ‘yung godfather ng [PhilHealth] mafia (Attoney Keith said that you’re the godfather of the [PhilHealth] mafia)? Do you have a reaction to that?”

Duque replied: “I deny this. Absolutely malicious and without basis. I do not wish to dignify that allegation.”

Duque has been serving the state insurer for 11 years now. He served as president from 2001 to 2005; PhilHeath chairman from 2005 to 2010, and was reappointed in 2017. 

It was Duque’s first appearance in the Senate probe into the PhilHealth corruption mess. (READ: Where’s Duque? Senators ask amid PhilHealth corruption mess)

During the Senate hearing, senators called out the health chief for his failed leadership of the Department of Health and PhilHealth, but he maintained that he had been doing his “best.” –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.