Duterte to NBI: Arrest owners of health centers in ‘ghost’ dialysis scam
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the arrest of owners of dialysis centers who were implicated in the so-called “ghost dialysis” treatment scam.
Duterte issued the order early Saturday after the Inquirer reported that Quezon City-based WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Center Corp. (WellMed) continues to ask the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for dialysis payments even when their patients have already died.
“I’m ordering you, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation)…the NBI should take over by tomorrow and start to summon everybody and the owners of that Wellness thing there, where these fraudulent claims were discovered, arrest them. That is my order. Arrest them,” Duterte said in an interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s television show on Sonshine Media Network.
“Place there sa blotter ninyo, upon the orders (of the President). Arrest them and investigate them right away,” he added.
Duterte also appeared unimpressed with Philhealth’s claim that its arbitration department would be needing 45 to 60 days to resolve the 28 administrative complaints against WellMed which is located in Novaliches, Quezon City.
“‘Yung administrative na sinasabi nila, ni (PhilHealth acting chief) Roy (Ferrer) kanina that they are initiating (an) investigation and they have 20 days. That’s s*** to me,” he said.
The President said that he would rather ask the NBI to present before him in Malacañang the owner of WellMed for questioning.
“I’ll tell the NBI: ‘Arrest the idiot’. And I will bring him to Malacañang and I’ll ask him: ‘Tell me the truth or I’ll throw you to the river’. But he will be extricated, we’ll not allow him to be drowned,” he said.
Duterte also hinted at “reshuffling” the Philhealth management amid the scandal, which he said cost the government billions of pesos.
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“What we need are really business people because ‘yung mga ganun is purely management… (So) when I go back (to Malacañang), I’m making the announcement that I am maybe reshuffling the Philhealth,” he said.
The President, however, claimed that he does not have the “slightest doubt about the integrity and honesty” of PhilHealth acting chief Roy Ferrer, noting that he was among those who have been “budging” for the prosecution of those who abuse the privileges of the state health insurance company.
Government officials found to be involved in the fraudulent claims will also be punished, the President stressed.
“At this time I do not have the evidence or proof so that I am not in a position to say that there are government men involved. Pero ‘yung mga ospital na nagchaharge na maski wala na ‘yung pasyente nagda-dialysis pa rin, ‘yun sila ang nagpafile ng fraudulent claim so sila ayung unahin ko,” he added.
“But I’m looking at any culpability of an employee of the government joining or in cahoots or in conspiracy. Talagang habulin ko to,” he added. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)