By Rey Panaligan
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Sunday said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will now turn its fact-finding probe on other hospitals and clinics with suspicious claims for dialysis treatment paid by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
The expanded investigation was ordered after the indictment of the executives of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center led by physician-businessman Bryan Sy.
“My directive to the NBI covers not only WellMed but also other clinics and hospitals. After WellMed, the NBI will investigate other suspicious claims,” he told journalists covering the DOJ.
Guevarra said the NBI will coordinate with PhilHealth and other possible whistleblowers to pursue the investigation on reports that many other dialysis treatment establishments were involved in the irregularity that cost the government’s health insurance agency more than P154 billion in bogus claims.
“Hopefully, the NBI can get the assistance of the new PhilHealth management team,” he stressed.
Last week, PhilHealth board members and executives led by its president and chief executive officer Roy Ferrer resigned their posts.
Aside from Ferrer, those 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.
But Guevarra said that despite the resignation of the PhilHealth officials, they are still under investigation in connection with the bogus claims.
They may be liable for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act “if they knowingly participated in this allegedly fraudulent scheme and benefitted from it.”
Estafa and falsification of documents have been filed by the NBI against Sy and other WellMed officers last week.
No PhilHealth official was included in the criminal charges as they were even the complainants in the cases.
The Manila regional trial court (RTC) has granted bail to Sy on the criminal charges filed against him by the DOJ.
His lawyer, Rowell Ilagan, said Sy was released from detention by the NBI Sunday (June 16) morning.
Aside from Sy, named in the criminal complaints were WellMed executives Dr. John Ray Gonzales, medical director; Claro Sy, chairman; Alvin Sy, corporate treasurer; Therese Francesca Tan, purchasing officer; Dick Ong, administration officer; and Drs. Porshia Natividad and Joemie Soriano.
Also charged were whistleblowers Edwin Roberto and Liezel Aileen Santos.
However, Guevarra said Roberto and Santos may apply as prosecution witnesses and may be placed under the government’s witness protection program.