Palace says report of multi-billion ‘ghost’ dialysis scheme a bloated amount

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s estimated P154 billion loss from fraudulent claims was a bigger amount than the actual figure, according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

“According to Secretary Duque, the Inquirer story.. it’s a malicious, baseless article with respect to the amount.. ‘yung P150 billion parang nilobo nila nang husto, mali daw yung mga basis,” he said in a Malacañang press briefing Tuesday.

(According to Secretary Duque, the Inquirer story is a malicious, baseless article with respect to the amount. The P150 billion was a ballooned amount, the basis was wrong.)

Panelo said that the actual figure was closer to P300 million, though he said that he was not sure.

Allegations that PhilHealth funds were fraudulently used to pay for treatments of dead patients surfaced last week after the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the government agency continued to pay for the dialysis treatments of a patient who had died in 2016.

Following this, Duterte called for the resignation of PhilHealth officials.

Panelo said that after the resignation of top officials, “second level PhilHealth officials will run the operation.” He also mentioned the name of Dr. Jaime Cruz, saying that the president has offered him a position in PhilHealth.

Duterte met with the PhilHealth board Monday.

“He (Duterte) reiterated his trust on the integrity of president of PhilHealth Roy Ferrer, as well as members of the board, but he says he needs a clean slate so that the investigation will proceed uninfluenced,” Panelo said.

Duterte also told them that he directed the NBI to have a full scale investigation.

“It’s better for us to wait for the full scale investigation of the NBI para we will not be speculating or guessing,” the spokesperson said. — intern Michelle Co