MANILA – A former anti-fraud agent on Tuesday called Health Secretary Francisco Duque III the “godfather” of an alleged “mafia” of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) where the latter held senior positions for almost 2 decades.
Duque served for at least 11 years as chairman or chairman of the state-run health insurance company, giving him “institutional knowledge” of how the agency works, attorney Thorsson Montes Keith said.
“Maituturing ko na sya ang godfather ng mafia,” he told senators investigating allegations of corruption at PhilHealth, which were attributed to a group of officials.
Duque approved the appointments of “almost every member of the Mafia,” Keith said.
The secretary replied, “I deny this. Absolutely malicious and baseless. I do not wish to honor this allegation.”
Keith also tied Duque to the 15 billion peso COVID-19 cash advance fund, released through an Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (MRI), which is now being considered by senators for allegedly favoring certain hospitals and even clinics not treating coronavirus cases.
He said Duque should have conducted “due diligence” as chairman of PhilHealth and that the secretary was responsible for “command responsibility”.