Court junks estafa case vs Wellmed owner, officials
Aileen Cerrudo • August 5, 2019 • 819
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has dismissed the estafa case against the owner and several officials of Wellmed Dialysis Center due to a technicality.
Branch 219 of the Quezon City RTC sided with the motion of Wellmed owner Bryan Sy to dismiss the complex crime of estafa filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
The case was filed by whistleblowers, Liezel Aileen de Leon, Edwin Roberto, and others due to anomalous PhilHealth transactions.
However, the Quezon City RTC said this does not mean the accused are innocent.
“Finally, the court emphasizes that the dismissal of these cases has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the accused,” according to Judge Janet Abergos-Samar of the Quezon City RTC Branch 219.
Meanwhile, the lawyer of the two whistleblowers, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement the dismissal “will derail all efforts to cleanse PhilHealth preparatory to the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law, which I authored in the 17th Congress.”
“The whistle blowers remain firm in their conviction to expose the truth and to seek justice for the Filipino people,” he added.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
MANILA, Philippines — Atty. Dante Gierran of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) insisted on Tuesday (January 26) that there is no truth that the agency is missing billions of pesos to irregularities and corruptions.
In August 2020, resigned PhilHealth Anti-Fraud officer Atty. Thorrsson Montes Keith made headlines for divulging alleged anomalies within the agency and claimed that around P15-billion was missing in the state insurer’s fund.
According to Gierran, they are finalizing the liquidation report as to where the said fund had been used.
“Sa ngayon po, 92 percent na ang fully liquidated. So kaunti na lang (So far, 92 percent (of the amount) has been liquidated. Only a small amount to go),” the PhilHealth CEO and President said.
As for the delays in the payment of the agency’s debts to the Philippine Red Cross and other healthcare providers, Gierran explained that, like any other government agency, PhilHealth’s operation is also deeply affected by the current pandemic.
Aside from being undermanned, Geirran said incomplete documents from claim applicants are also delaying their validation process.
“One of the reasons of the delay, of course, we are under the covid regime,” he explained.
“Lahat tayo napipinsala, mga kilos natin (We are all affected, our operations.) We are less liberated,” he concluded. –MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday said he has filed two separate bills seeking to grant the president the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS) in times of national emergencies.
In a statement, Velasco said his twin measures propose to amend Republic Act (RA) 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, and RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, which provide for gradual increases in monthly premium contributions in PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.
The bills authorize the president to suspend the implementation of the scheduled increases in premium rates in times of national emergencies “when public interest so requires.”
But this should be in consultation with the secretaries of health and finance departments as chairpersons of PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.
The measures were filed after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the premium rate increase.
Velasco said RA 11223 was enacted in 2018 to ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk.
He said the intent of the law is clear and cannot be overemphasized—Filipinos need and deserve a comprehensive set of health services that are cost-effective, of high quality, and responsive.
The House speaker, however, stressed that the current situation is extraordinary and that Congress must respond accordingly as he called for the swift approval of the bills aimed at alleviating the financial burden faced by many Filipino workers amid the crisis.
“While we recognize that the [PhilHealth] only aims to implement the provisions of RA 11223, imposing a higher premium rate to our kababayans under our current conditions will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” Velasco said in the explanatory note of House Bill 8316.
“Suspending the imposition of the new PhilHealth premium rates will provide a much-needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic and will assure Filipinos that the government is sensitive to their sentiments,” he said.
In filing HB 8317, Velasco said the temporary suspension of the hike in SSS contributions will help the workforce achieve faster recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
“We are witnesses to the negative impact of this COVID-19 outbreak. Under this pretext, the sovereign government must be given the prerogative to bend the rules of the social security law in favor of the greater good,” Velasco said.
He likewise said that increasing the rate of contributions of SSS members will “strikingly undermine the recovery effort of everyone suffering from job losses, wage reduction, business closures, and health-related issues.”
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