Palace: No sacred cows in Duterte’s anti-corruption campaign

Published August 15, 2019, 7:30 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

No one will be spared in President Duterte’s anti-corruption campaign amid the alleged presence of a mafia in the Philippine Heath Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) involved in fraudulent health insurance claims, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo asserted that the President will not protect anyone involved in corruption even if they are his friends or political allies.

“Of all people, he will never allow, tolerate any irregularity or corruption in this government regardless of any relationship to him or whether or not those are allied with him politically,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

For now, Panelo said the President would wait for the results of the investigation on the officials
allegedly involved in the PhilHealth fraud scandal. He noted that charges have been filed against the concerned officials.

“If there is an ongoing investigation, the President will wait for the findings,” he added.

Former PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer recently appeared in a Senate inquiry and disclosed the presence of an alleged mafia or syndicate involved in irregularities in the state health insurance agency. He alleged that the group included eight PhilHealth officials behind the fraud schemes that weakened the finances of the agency in recent years.

Panelo confirmed that Ferrer mentioned that he had “enemies” in PhilHealth “in passing” during the President’s meeting with agency officials last June. Ferrer however neither called his rivals as “mafia” nor gave their names during the conversation with Duterte, acceding to Panelo.

“Parang during the meeting with them, parang may nabanggit silang about certain people na kalaban noong Dr. Roy. And then parang nabanggit ni Presidenteng kilala ko [During the meeting with them, they mentioned about certain people, enemies of Dr. Roy. The President then said I might know them],” he said.

Panelo however said he does not know the names mentioned by Ferrer.

“I don’t even remember who they are, but alam ko may mga kalaban si Dr. Roy na mga dating taga-UP. Iyon lang ang alam ko kaya—I don’t even know their names. Hindi ko alam ang context, nakalimutan ko na iyon [I don’t even remember who they are but I know Dr. Roy has rivals from UP. I don’t even know their names. I don’t know the context, I’ve forgotten about that],” he said.

Last June, the President directed Ferrer and other PhilHealth board members to tender their courtesy resignations over the controversy arising from alleged ghost dialysis treatment. Duterte reportedly wanted a clean slate that will be free of any irregularity in rendering services including the universal health care program.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has also been mobilized to investigate the alleged irregularities in PhilHealth.