139 victims of human smuggling on board a cruise ship rescued in Bataan
Marje Pelayo • July 3, 2018 • 7886
Authorities round up the rescued undocumented passengers of a cruise ship bound for Micronesia. (Photo courtesy of: Philippine Coast Guard)
MANILA, Philippines – A joint anti-smuggling operations by members of the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) together with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) rescued 139 victims of human smuggling on board a cruise ship bound for Micronesia at 1:00 am, Tuesday (July 3).
In a press release, the PCG said the operations team apprehended a 5,746 gross-tonne old cruise ship registered as “M/V Forever Lucky” with 41 crew members on board after the NCWC received information from its foreign counterpart that a vessel of interest docked in Orion, Bataan was allegedly involved in illegal activities specifically human smuggling.
According to NCWC Director Rear Admiral Joel Garcia, the NCWC flagged the information to the PCG and the NBI that the vessel was “preparing to depart the Philippines for Micronesia to transport undocumented number of Filipinos.”
The owner of the vessel, Farenheit Company Ltd., produced “falsified and fictitious Special Permit to Navigate, no Certificate of Public Convenience or franchise to legalize its operation, no manifest for the 139 passengers on board, and other documents,” according to the PCG.
The PCG said the investigation in ongoing to determine appropriate charges to be filed against the persons responsible behind the illegal activity. — Marje Pelayo
M/V Forever Lucky: The 5,746 gross-tonne old cruise ship that was used to smuggle 139 people (Photo courtesy of: Philippine Coast Guard)
MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed criminal charges against 21 officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Wednesday (August 28).
All accused belong to PhilHealth’s accreditation division.
The complaint stemmed from the official’s alleged negligence of work and conspiracy which resulted in ghost claims at WellMed Dialysis Center, according to NBI Deputy Director for Investigation Service Vicente de Guzman III based on their initial investigation.
De Guzman said the center’s record revealed that claims were still processed using names of deceased patients.
“Base sa imbestigasyon ng ating anti graft (unit), it appears na nagkaroon sila ng [sabwatan] (Based on the investigation of our anti-graft (unit), there was conspiracy) because they are given undue benefits out of the acts of the accreditation committee,” he said.
Atty. Ferdinand Razon, the NBI agent handling the case, said Wellmed was able to receive a total of P1.8 million worth of PhilHealth claims in between January and May 2019.
Investigation is ongoing to be able to identify other personalities involved in the scam, De Guzman said.
“We are still tracking that but we cannot categorically say na meron kaya po ang imbestigasyon ng NBI ay patuloy, (that there are [other people involved] that’s why our investigation is ongoing),” he noted.
“We want to establish kung mayroong (if there are) linkages itong mga (between the) health care providers with some officers of PhilHeath,” he added.
The concerned PhilHealth officials were charged for violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, National Health Insurance Act of 2013 and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
In June this year, the state-owned insurance corporation filed a case against Wellmed Dialysis Center and its owner, Bryan Christopher Sy, over the said ghost claims. – MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan)
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Sunday (June 16) released the co-owner of a dialysis center in Quezon City after being in detention for 6 days in connection with alleged fraudulent claims, his lawyer, Rowell Ilagan, said.
Dr. Bryan Sy, co-owner of WellMed Dialysis Center, was arrested on Monday (10) for allegedly ordering former employees to make claims for dialysis treatment from state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on behalf of patients who had already died.
A Manila court on Saturday (June 15) ordered Sy’s release after his camp posted a P72,000 bail.
He was not, however, released immediately due to the absence of signatories from the NBI, said his lawyer.
Ilagan said Sy had to wait one more day and walked free from detention around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The Department of Justice indicted Sy on June 14, along with former employees Edwin Roberto and Leizel Aileen de Leon, for estafa through falsification of official documents.
Roberto and De Leon jointly bared the alleged WellMed racket, revealing that it made P800,000 in ghost PhilHealth claims from 2016 to 2018.
WellMed lawyer, however, denied the ‘ghost claims’ with PhilHealth.
They wrote DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra and NBI Director Dante Gierran on Thursday to demand Sy’s release because his detention had exceeded 36 hours.
Under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, authorities have a maximum of 36 hours to detain a suspect without filing any charge in court. /mbmf
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