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PhilHealth chief refutes graft charges

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By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) acting President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Roy Benedicto Ferrer has refuted allegations of graft and malfeasances lodged against him by his subordinates, saying the charges were “spurious.”

Dr. Roy Benedicto Ferrer (Philhealth / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dr. Roy Benedicto Ferrer
(Philhealth / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Dr. Ferrer said the charges were “fueled by misguided retribution” from some PHIC workers purportedly resisting organizational “reforms” he has initiated and is pursuing upon his recent takeover of the agency leadership.

“The reforms that I have employed did not garner the approval of some employees because they resist change… We will prove, time and again, that our mandate is bigger than the whims of people whose vision is blinded by misplaced ambition and greed,” Ferrer said.

He cited as a focal reform initiative his pursuit of the planned transition of PHIC or PhilHealth operation into Universal Health Care (UHC).

“I will not let anyone or anything come between the Filipinos and Universal Health Care… I shall continue to (lead) PhilHealth’s ship towards the shores of UHC, a journey that once seemed endless but now is nearing its completion,” he said.

Ferrer was named sole respondent in a 23-page complaint filed before the Ombudsman-Mindanao on Oct. 31 by 12 PHIC key officials – Jelbert Galicto and Suzette Punay, both lawyers; Patrick Angelo Uy, Khristin Tan, Germaine Tan, Johana Blazon, Christopher Molina, Rosalie Ann Bajo, Maria Teresa Tesoro, Mary Grace Socorro Gonzalo, Jonas Matthew Pang, and Filbert Bryan Sollesta.

He said he has not received yet a copy of the complaint, which accused him of alleged graft and corrupt practices, malversation of funds, abuse of authority, and grave misconduct, gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to public interest.

Initially, Ferrer admitted having received last September professional fees for his services rendered as a healthcare practitioner to a patient or patients treated in 2016.

But complainant Galicto, a lawyer heading the PHIC field office in Caraga region, on Thursday said Ferrer’s argument was “baloney” because their 23-page complaint is backed by 26 boxes of documents showing that the accused has been rendering healthcare services and receiving corresponding professional fees from 2014 to 2018.

Galicto said official documents showed Ferrer having received professional fees of P593,370 in 2014; P667,380 in 2015; P581,010 in 2016; P502,440 in 2017 and P186,450 in 2018. The summed up fees amounting to P2.5-million “does not include claims co-managed with other doctors,” he said.

In their complaint, he and the 11 PHIC Davao-based officials said Ferrer was appointed member of the PhilHealth Board of Directors in February 2017 and continued serving as healthcare provider with professional fees in obvious “conflict of interest.”

They said Ferrer, as PHIC Board member, allegedly brokered the appointment of one Rodolfo Del Rosario as OIC of the PhilHealth-Davao office in 2017. Del Rosario subsequently accredited Ferrer as healthcare practitioner and the accreditation remained unrevoked even after President Duterte appointed the latter as PHIC acting president/CEO last June 7, they added.

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