NBI files estafa, falsification raps over fraudulent kidney treatments

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has filed a complaint of estafa and falsification against WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center over allegations that Philippine Health Insurance Corp. funds were used for non-existent kidney treatments.

NBI agents brought Brian Sy, one of WellMed’s owners, to the Department of Justice Tuesday afternoon for inquest proceedings. The agents also brought Edwin Roberto, a former employee of WellMed, and PhilHealth official Liezel de Leon—both are whistleblowers of the scheme—for inquest.

According to the complaint, Roberto narrated in his sworn affidavit that on March 30, 2016, Sy ordered hm “to try to charge a dialysis billing amounting to P2,600 PhilHealth claims of dead individuals.”

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“Because of such, he [Roberto] instructed de Leon to generate PhilHealth Benefit Eligibility Form coming from the PhilHealth Portal together with the Claim Form 2 and Member’s Data Record,” the complaint read.

Roberto also alleged that prior to his resignation in March 2018, “a total amount of P600,000 composing 200 dialysis sessions were settled by PhilHealth to WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Center Corporation.”

Others named in the complaint are:

  • Dr. John Ray Gonzales, medical director
  • Claro Sy, chairman of WellMed
  • Alvin Sy, corporate treasurer of WellMed
  • Therese Francesca Tan, purchasing officer of WellMed
  • Dick Ong, administration officer of WellMed
  • Dr. Porshia Natividad, physician
  • Dr. Joemie Soriano, physician

The NBI said that the seven are currently at large.

The arrest

The issue stemmed from a Philippine Daily Inquirer report that stated that PhilHealth continued paying treatments of a patient who died in 2016.

On Monday morning, Roberto and de Leon presented themselves to the NBI as the agency looked into the alleged “ghost” kidney treatments. This came after President Rodrigo Duterte, on Saturday, ordered the arrest of the WellMed officials.

Only courts can issue warrants of arrest although the president can order agencies to launch investigations.

The NBI arrested Sy Monday afternoon, after their agents said they found “probable cause” to do so.

A person may be arrested without a warrant if he caught in the act of committing a crime or if the act falls under “continuing crimes.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said that NBI “will have to explain the factual and legal basis for their action during the inquest.”

In their complaint, the NBI said that upon their review of Roberto and de Leon’ sworn statements, “the operatives of the Anti-Graft Division of this Bureau believe that the officers of WellMed Dialysis and Laborator Center Corporation including the attending physicians have indeed committed and still committing schemes to defraud PHIC and found adequate reason to place under arrest the persons of [Sy, de Leon and Roberto.]”

Petition for writ of habeas corpus

After NBI held Sy in custody on Monday, his camp ran to a local court to challenge his detention.

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 earlier Tuesday held a hearing on Sy’s petition for the writ of habeas corpus.

Several news reports said that Sy was brought to the court in the afternoon.

The Manila court did not issue a ruling on their plea but it submitted the case for resolution. — with a report from The STAR/Edu Punay

 

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