PhilHealth chief, 6 other execs tender resignation

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PhilHealth chief, 6 other execs tender resignation

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Health Insurance Corp. president and chief executive officer Roy Ferrer and six other PhilHealth officials, who are all presidential appointees, have tendered their “courtesy resignation,” according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The six other officials are PhilHealth Board appointive members Jack Arroyo, elected local chief executive; Rex Maria Mendoza, independent director of the Monetary Board; Hildegardes Dineros of the information economy sector; Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna of the Filipino overseas workers sector; Roberto Salvador of the formal economy sector and Joan Cristine Reina Liban-Lareza of the health care provider sector.

Duque said acceptance of the resignations would be up to Malacañang.

The courtesy resignations were submitted amid accusations about “ghost” dialysis claims paid by the state-owned agency and as Duque underscored the need to improve the accreditation system of PhilHealth.

In an interview, Duque said he is planning to seek guidance from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for “technical assistance” on how to enhance the accreditation system of PhilHealth so it can effectively combat the illicit practices of its personnel and health care facilities.

“I think the World Bank and ADB can… identify the models of very good or outstanding accreditation committee functions or ways that we can model after. Although, for me, it’s easy to do it – remove the people there and look at the process,” he said.

Duque observed that good lawyers must have an “institutional representation” at the accreditation committee so that they can guide them “as to the legal ramifications of their actions.”

The health chief also emphasized the need to “overhaul” the accreditation policies, which he finds “very tedious.”

Duque is set to discuss with the PhilHealth board the revamp of the committee to also give way to the reforms that the Duterte administration wants to put in place at the agency.

Citing the case of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center, the establishment involved in the alleged anomaly, the health chief maintained that the committee had “failed to exercise its prudent judgement” when it did not revoke the facility’s accreditation, although the evidence about its nefarious activities was “already damning.”

Still detained at NBI

Meanwhile, physician-businessman Bryan Sy, arrested co-owner of WellMed, will have to remain in detention at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Manila regional trial court (RTC) had rejected his bid to be released by questioning the legality of his arrest last Monday at the NBI without a warrant issued by a court.

In inquest proceedings at the DOJ on charges of estafa and falsification of documents last Tuesday evening, Sy and his lawyers asked the investigating prosecutor to order his release from detention due to the supposedly illegal arrest.

They argued that he could not be subject of a warrantless arrest because the charges against him involved documents and cannot be considered as a continuing crime, which is a lawful ground for arrest without warrant.

But Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Noreen Devanadera rejected the plea, citing the decision of Manila RTC Branch 20 before the hearing denying the respondent’s petition for habeas corpus.

“Resolving the motion of respondent Bryan Sy insofar as the validity of the warrantless arrest, we find that the court has already ruled upon its validity in its order dated June 11, 2019 on the petition for habeas corpus. Hence, this case is subject for inquest proceedings,” the prosecutor said during the hearing.

With this, Sy’s camp decided not to submit countervailing evidence, prompting the prosecutor to submit the complaint filed by the NBI and PhilHealth for resolution.

“In the meantime, respondent will be detained at the NBI detention center while awaiting the resolution of this case,” Devanadera added.

In its ruling, the Manila RTC denied the petition for habeas corpus filed by Sy’s wife Therese Francesca questioning the validity of the WellMed owner’s arrest while undergoing interrogation at the NBI.

After hearing the petition, Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali found no basis to grant the plea and order the release of Sy from NBI detention. – With Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla