Health Secretary Francisco Duque may be included in the investigation into the payout of billions of pesos by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to dialysis treatment centers for bogus claims
that used the names of dead members, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
Guevarra said that as a former chief executive of the state-owned health insurance company, Duque could be covered by the expanded fact-finding probe being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation.
“The NBI probe may cover a number of years and will include the actions of every officer or employee of PhilHealth who had knowledge, or ought to have knowledge, of any irregular payments by PhilHealth,” Guevarra said in a interview.
Duque served as CEO of PhilHealth from 2001 to 2005 before he was appointed Department of Health secretary in 2005 during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Reappointed as DOH chief by President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2017, he also sits as the chairman of the board of PhilHealth.
The Justice secretary made the statement in response to a question from Senator Panfilo Lacson, who wanted to know why Duque has been spared from the controversy when the rest of the board and the CEO have been made to resign.
Guevarra said the NBI probe would look into the possible liabilities of incumbent and former PhilHealth officials and personnel over the scam that allegedly cost the government P154 billion.
“The NBI is looking into the possibility that certain PhilHealth officials may be charged for violation of the Anti-Graft Law if they knowingly participated in this allegedly fraudulent scheme and benefitted from it,” Guevarra said.
After meeting with President Duterte last week, the PhilHealth officials tendered their courtesy resignations.
Apart from Ferrer, the six other PhilHealth board members who resigned were Jack Arroyo, elected local chief executive; Rex Maria Mendoza, independent director of the Monetary Board; Hildegardes Dineros of the information economy sector; Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna of the Filipino overseas workers sector; Roberto Salvador of the formal economy sector; and Joan Cristine Reina Liban-Lareza of the health care provider sector.
The Justice secretary also revealed over the weekend that the NBI would look into other hospitals and clinics involved in the anomaly following the indictment of executives of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center led by arrested physician-businessman Bryan Sy.
READ: Duterte: Prosecute all in dialysis mess
The NBI filed charges of estafa and falsification of documents against Sy and other officers of WellMed last week.
However, the complaint did not include any PhilHealth officials, some of whom even stood as complainants in the charges against Sy and 10 others.
The DOJ indicted Sy last Friday following inquest proceedings conducted by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Noreen Devanadera, who found probable cause in the charges against the respondent.
The Manila regional trial court has granted bail to Sy, who was released by the NBI Sunday.