WellMed: Admission of whistleblowers to WPP ‘highly irregular’
MANILA, Philippines — The legal counsel of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center (WellMed) on Monday questioned the admission of whistleblowers in the “ghost dialysis scheme” to the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), calling it as “highly irregular.”
Atty. Rowell Ilagan, the counsel of WellMed co-owner Dr. Bryan Sy, raised this issue after a Quezon City court dismissed the criminal case filed against him and several other officials of the private dialysis center.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) earlier Monday junked the case on a technicality concern.
“This is a positive development. The dismissal of the case based on the lack of jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court to hear and decide the case bolsters our position that the crime charged (estafa through falsification of a public document) is not a grave felony,” Ilagan said in a statement.
“As such, the admission of the alleged whistleblowers to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) is highly irregular as the admission to WPP is only limited to a grave felony,” he added.
Former WellMed employees Edwin Roberto and Leizel de Leon were “provisionally admitted” into WPP two months ago.
Both revealed in June that WellMed continuously collected payments from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on behalf of its deceased clients.
Quezon City RTC Branch 219 dismissed the case for estafa in relation to the falsification of public and/or official documents for lack of jurisdiction.
In its August 5 decision, the court granted WellMed’s petition that sought to quash all 17 cases of estafa through falsification of public and/or official documents.
“These cases are DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction over the offenses charged without prejudice to refiling before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City,” wrote Presiding Judge Janet Abergos-Samar.
“The cases are dismissed because based on the crime charged in the Information (charge sheet) and the applicable penalty, it is not the Regional Trial Court which has jurisdiction to hear and decide the cases but the first level courts or the Metropolitan Trial Courts,” she added.
The Quezon City court further clarified that the dismissal of the case “has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the accused.” /kga
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