Saturday, August 17, 2019

Philhealth chief to face complaint at Ombudsman

EMBATTLED Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) acting president and chief executive officer Dr. Roy Benedicto Ferrer has denied any wrongdoing as his accusers have maintained that he committed a number of violations in line with his job as the agency’s top official.

Twelve of his colleagues at Philhealth have alleged that Ferrer was in violation of a number of laws, among them the National Health Insurance Act, the Ethical Standards of Public Employees Act, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, malversation of public funds, as well as other administrative offenses including grave misconduct, gross dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

One of the complainants, lawyer Jelbert Galicto, head of the legal office for Philhealth in the Caraga region, said they are optimistic that the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao will act on their complaint, citing the anti-graft body’s previous decision on Dr. Stephen Magat, former chief of the claims processing division of Philhealth in Davao Region.

In the complainants’ verified complaint against Ferrer dated October 27 and was received by the Ombudsman in Davao City on October 31, they made mention of Magat’s case who he was indicted for illegal practice of profession, violation of Anti-Graft Law (RA 019), and conflict of interest.

In a phone interview on Sunday, Galicto said they believe that what happened to Magat could also happen to Ferrer as they have sufficient evidence to back their allegations.

Magat was reportedly out of the country when the Ombudsman decided on his case.

Galicto said his co-complainants from the Philhealth office in Davao have also furnished President Rodrigo Duterte a copy of their complaint, adding it’s not only the Ombudsman that will look into the allegations but also the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

Aside from Galicto, the other complainants are lawyer Suzette Punay, Patrick Angelo Uy, Khristin Tan, Germaine Tan, Johana Blazon, Christopher Molina, Rosaline Ann Bajo, Ma. Teresa Tesoro, Mary Grace Socorro Gonzalo, Jonas Matthew Pang, and Filbert Bryan Sollesta, all working at Philhealth regional office in Davao.

The accusers alleged that Ferrer claimed and was paid P604,080 in Philhealth benefits for professional fees as sole attending physician from March 2017 to June 2018.

“This is illegal as Dr. Ferrer (as Acting PhilHealth President and CEO) should not approve and make payments to himself (as accredited PhilHealth provider. He also received P1.55 [million in salaries and allowances in 2017 as an officer of the Corporation,” they said in a statement.

Ferrer was appointed member of the Philhealth board of directors in February 2017.

On May 1, he was granted a three-year Philhealth accreditation as a healthcare profession by then Philhealth regional vice president for Davao Rodolfo Del Rosario Jr.

On June 5, Ferrer was appointed as Philhealth acting president and CEO.

In a November 7 statement released by Philhealth national office, Ferrer said the charges filed against him are “fueled by misguided retribution because of the organizational reforms I have initiated to improve PhilHealth’s overall performance.”

On the amount that Ferrer supposedly collected from Philhealth even after his appointment as the corporation’s chief on June 5, the agency said: “However, records show that his last claim for services rendered as for a patient admitted on June 3, 2018 or two days prior to his assumption as Acting PCEO.”

Ferrer said he welcomes “inquiries into these allegations and offer my full cooperation all in view of dismissing these claims which are baseless. Bring it on. I have nothing to hide.”


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