NBI to charge PhilHealth officials, ex-WellMed employees over dialysis fund mess

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it will file charges against officials of the state health insurer and former employees of a Quezon City-based dialysis facility over alleged fraudulent insurance claims.

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said Tuesday that along with the owner of WellMed Dialysis Center and its two former employees, it will also file estafa and falsification charges against officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Lavin, however, did not disclose the names of PhilHealth officers facing changes.

Former WellMed employees Edwin Roberto and Liezel Santos said WellMed made them file fraudulent benefit claims to PhilHealth on behalf of dead patients.

Roberto and Santos are staying at the NBI headquarters in Manila pending their admission to the witness protection program, their lawyer Harry Roque told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The NBI also arrested the couple.

"If we're going to use them later on as state witnesses, then in the first place, they should be criminally charged and then later on we'll file a motion to exclude them from the charges," Lavin said.

The NBI arrested Monday WellMed owner Bryan Sy while he was at the agency's headquarters for an investigation.

Sy was arrested without a warrant as authorities believe his dialysis center was committing a continuing crime.

His wife, Therese Francesca Tan-Sy, and WellMed lawyer Rowell Ilagan, have questioned the arrest before a Manila court and petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus.

The NBI presented Sy before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 at around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

He then faced inquest proceedings after appearing in court, where the NBI also explained why a writ of habeas corpus should not be issued.

The Manila court will determine whether the arrest of Sy is valid. Otherwise, it will order his release.

It, however, denied the writ of habeas corpus. It stated that the claim of no probable cause for the warrantless arrest is not a ground to issue the writ.

Authorities took custody of Sy after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the NBI to arrest WellMed owners.

Duterte has also demanded that PhilHealth acting President Roy Ferrer and other members of its board submit their courtesy resignations to give way to an impartial investigation.

CNN Philippines Correspondents Anjo Alimario and Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.