By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Unable to wait for 20 days for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to complete its investigation, President Duterte ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to immediately arrest the owner of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center, which is implicated in the “ghost dialysis” scheme.
“Yung administrative na sinasabi ni Roy kanina (The administrative charges that Roy was saying and) that they are initiating an investigation and they have 20 days to… That’s shit to me. I’ll tell them, ‘Arrest the idiot and bring him to Malacañang.’ I’ll ask him, ‘Tell me the truth or I’ll throw you off the river’,” Duterte said, referring to the statement of act PhilHealth President Roy Ferrer.
“The NBI should take over by tomorrow and start to summon everybody and if the owner of that Wellness thing there, where these fraudulent claims were discovered, arrest them,” he added.
“That is my order: Arrest them. Place there in the blotter ninyo (in your blotter), ‘Upon orders of the…’ Arrest them and investigate them right away. No ifs, no buts,” he continued.
READ MORE: NBI to probe ghost dialysis treatment scam
The President said he is looking into reshuffling PhilHealth officials the loss they suffered due to fraudulent claims.
Duterte made the statement a day after he instructed PhilHealth to institute criminal actions against officials and employees who were part of the ghost dialysis treatment scheme.
Two whistleblowers claimed that WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center located in Novaliches has been filing claims for dialysis sessions for patients who are already dead.
In an interview with his friend Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, Duterte said that by the amount of money lost because of the fraud, he is forced to reshuffle PhilHealth’s ranks when he returns to Malacañang.
“For the sheer amount that was lost, I have to reorganize your entity, change maybe all of you, install a more… systems of accounting and accountability,” Duterte said.
“Bakit umabot ng ganoon kalaki (Why did it come to that amount) without the necessary checks along the way? When it becomes clear that the amount is getting big, somebody should look somewhere. I really do not know how to do it, I am not a systems analyst,” he added.
“Was there a kind of checks that you installed because if none, then we have fallen short of our duty to really protect the money,” he continued.
Duterte said that while he has no concrete evidence, he is looking into whether government officials or employees are involved in the fraud.
“What is really worse is it is public money. So I am very strict. I do not want to hurt people. At this time I do not have the evidence or proof so that I am not in the position to say that there are government men involved,” he said.
“Pero yung mga ospital nagcha-charge maski wala na yung mga pasyente o yung mga dialysis cases, yun sila ang nagfa-file ng fraudulent claim. That’s fraud. So sila yung unahin ko (But for the hospitals who are making filing fraudulent claims, I will really go after them first because that’s fraud),” he added.
“But I am looking into any culpability of an employee of government joining, or in cahoots, or in conspiracy, kasi talagang hahabulin ko ito (Because I will really go after them),” he continued.
Duterte also defended Ferrer, saying he does not think that the latter has any role in the fraud.
“I do not have the slightest doubt about the integrity and honesty of Roy Ferrer, the acting operations officer of PhilHealth, and I do not think they are part of it, actually they are also the ones urging or batting for the prosecution of itong sa (these) PhilHealth privileges that were abused tremendously. As of [the] last count, it was 154 something, if I’m not mistaken, billion [pesos],” he said.
The President, however, cast doubt on the integrity of some doctors for “overcharging” patients and fictitiously treating patients who are already dead.
Duterte, meanwhile, encouraged hospital staff involved in the fraud to come forward and surrender.
“Just surrender because the Filipino people are demanding for truth. And I am very much interested to find out what happened to the money,” he said.