Duterte offers no protection for alleged PhilHealth mafia

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has no plan of protecting the eight people who are allegedly part of the "mafia" within the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Malacañang said on Thursday, August 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark a day after the names of supposed members of PhilHealth "mafia" were revealed during the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation on the anomalies hounding the state health insurance agency.

"Oo, definitely (Definitely yes)," Panelo told Palace reporters, when asked if the President would not protect the alleged "mafia" members identified by a former PhilHealth board member.

"Si Presidente pa, naku (The President), of all people, he will never allow or tolerate any irregularity or corruption in this government, regardless of any relationship to him, o whether or not those people are allied with him politically," he added.

During the Senate inquiry, former PhilHealth board member Roberto Salvador identified "mafia" members as regional vice presidents Khaliquzzaman Macabato (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Masiding Alonto Jr. (Northern Mindanao), William Chavez (Central Visayas), Paolo Johan Perez (Mimaropa), and Jelbert Galicto (Caraga).

He also tagged PhilHealth assistant corporate secretary Valerie Anne Hollero and former regional vice president Miriam Grace Pamonag (Central Mindanao).

Salvador and former PhilHealth president Roy Ferrer claimed that the alleged mafia was behind the bleeding of the agency's mutibillion-peso funds for the past several years through various fraud schemes like overpayments and "ghost" claims.

Salvador said the President was informed about the group during a meeting held in June.

In June, Duterte overhauled the PhilHealth, following allegations that the state-run corporation granted benefit claims to nonexistent patients of accredited health provider WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center in Novaliches, Quezon City.

The President asked Ferrer and former PhilHealth board members to file their courtesy resignation, following the "ghost" kidney dialysis treatments scandal.

Panelo clarified that the names of the alleged mafiosi were not mentioned during Duterte's previous meeting with PhilHealth officials.

He, nevertheless, said the President would take appropriate actions, once the results of the ongoing investigation on alleged irregularities in PhilHealth are released.

"Parang in passing lang 'yun. Definitely, walang pangalan na binanggit doon. Definitely, wala. Parang nabanggit lang doon, merong mga taong may kalaban siya (Ferrer)," he said.

(That was mentioned in passing. Definitely, no names were mentioned. Definitely none. What was mentioned is there were people who are considered as hsi enemies.)

"If there's an ongoing investigation, eh di syempre (of course), the President will wait for the findings," Panelo added. (SunStar Philippines)


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