By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will await the results of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s investigation into the alleged fraud and corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was reacting to the statement of former PhilHealth board member Roberto Salvador, who identified seven persons as being part of an alleged “mafia” that misused the state health insurance agency’s funds for years.
Salvador, however, clarified that by the mafia, he meant a closed group of influential persons.
“If there is an ongoing investigation, ‘di siyempre (of course), the President will wait for the findings,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“He (Duterte) will never allow or tolerate any irregularity or corruption in this government regardless of any relationship to him, or whether or not those people are allied with him politically,” he added.
Asked to share his knowledge on the alleged PhilHealth mafia, Panelo said he did not know any of them but recalled that former PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer may have had enemies within the agency.
“Parang nabanggit ni Presidenteng kilala ko, parang kilala mo yata iyon (I think the President mentioned that they were people I knew). I don’t even remember who they are, but alam ko may mga kalaban si Dr. Roy na mga dating taga-UP (I know Dr. Roy has rivals who used to be from the University of the Philippines),” Panelo said in a Place briefing.
“Iyon lang ang alam ko kaya (That’s all I know)—I don’t even know their names. Hindi ko alam ang context, nakalimutan ko na iyon (I don’t even know the context, I forgot about it). But I understand, he named them ‘di ba (right)?” he added.
When he had first learned about it, Panelo said they were not referred to as “mafia” but simply rivals within the PhilHealth.
The alleged PhilHealth mafia was first brought up during Duterte’s meeting with its officials last June 10.
PhilHealth’s reputation was marred by irregularities related to the funding of bogus kidney dialysis treatments of deceased patients of WellMed Dialysis Center.
Currently, the National of Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is probing the alleged mafia responsible for the fraudulent health insurance claims.
During the Senate hearing into the PhilHealth fraud, Salvador identified the seven officials as Paolo Johan Perez, regional vice president of PhilHealth regional office-Mimaropa; Khaliquzzaman Macabato, RVP of PhilHealth Regional Office-ARMM; Valerie Anne Hollero, assistant corporate secretary; Dennis Adre, RVP of PhilHealth Regional Office-Soccsksargen; Masiding Alonto Jr., RVP of PhilHealth Regional Office-Northern Mindanao; Jelbert Galicto, RVP of PhilHealth Regional Office-Caraga; and William Chavez, RVP of PhilHealth Regional Office-Central Visayas. (PNA)