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WEllmed scam whistleblowers arrested after losing WPP status

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Quezon City Police officers arrested the whistleblowers in the ghost dialysis scam involving the Wellmed Dialysis Center and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) after losing the benefit of the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Lawyer Harry Roque said Edwin Roberto and Leizel de Leon, former Wellmed employees, were arrested upon their release from the WPP after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the case against its officials and the case was refiled before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC).

Roque said the court has set a P610,000 bail each for Roberto and de Leon.

“No WPP for MeTC (Metropolitan Trial Court),” Roque explained, adding that a hearing was set to reinstate them as state witnesses.

“It’s really a travesty of justice intended to silence them. We will not allow that,” he said.

Authorities earlier arrested WellMed owner, Dr. Bryan Sy, but he was later released after posting a bail of P72,000 before the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) earlier recommended the filing of charges against more than two dozen PhilHealth officials, mostly physicians, for their part in the accreditation of Wellmed.

The NBI had recommended to Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento the conduct of preliminary investigation of the charges against officials and members of the accreditation sub-committee of PhilHealth, who processed the papers of Wellmed: Dr. Rizza Majella L. Herrera, acting senior manager and head of the accreditation department of Philhealth; Dr. Bernadette C. Lico and Dr. Janice Gem Perlas, chairpersons of the accreditation sub-committee; and sub-committee members Dr. Leilani Joy V. Asprer, Dr. Rofien Ison, Dr.
Manuel Lampitoc, lawyer Recto M. Panti, Henry V. Almanon, Dr. Jeffrey C. Pe, Cheryl Welan, Lolita V. Tuliao, Dr. Quintin T. Callueng, lawyer Mary Grace delos Santos, Maricel Maglalang, Susan Rebecca Romero, Yvonne A. Fernandez, Dr. Katrina Marie Aguilar, Dr. Cynthia P. Camacho, Dr. Imelda Trinidad de Vera-Pe, Dr. Arsenio P. Alcantara, and Dr. Leticia Gay D. Aguda.

The charges are for violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA 10606, or the National Health Insurance Program; and RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

Prosecutors have vowed to file the proper charges before the proper court after the Quezon City RTC earlier dismissed the 17 complaints filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Sy, and others implicated in the bogus claims filed by Wellmed with PhilHealth.

In a 14-page resolution on August 5, RTC Branch 219 Judge Janet Abergos-Samar dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the offenses charged, without prejudice to refiling before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City.

The ruling granted a motion to quash, filed by Sy’s counsels, which said that the court has no jurisdiction over the offense of estafa through falsification of public documents since the crime is punishable with a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment, which is cognizable by the first-level courts.

On June 13, prosecutors recommended the filing of separate information against Sy, de Leon and Roberto for estafa through falsification of public and/or official documents, for the alleged irregular or fraudulent claims for payment of dialysis and other medical treatments by Wellmed from the state health insurance firm. (PNA)

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