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Duque tagged as 'godfather' of PhilHealth mafia

Health Secretary Francsico Duque III is the "godfather" of the mafia in PhilHealth, a whistleblower claimed during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

"Maituturing ko po na siya po ang godfather po ng mafia," former PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith said in a Senate hearing.

"Doon po sa Interim Reimbursemen Mechanism siya po ang chairman, as a chairman [ng PhilHealth Board] mayroon pong due diligence po na gagawin ang isang chairman and considering na he's a doctor and mayroon siyang institutional knowlege sa pamamalakad sa PhilHealth," he added.

Keith stressed that Duque, having held various key positions in the PhilHealth management since 2001, could have easily spotted the irregularities in the IRM compared to him who had only been in PhilHealth for nine months.

Further, Keith said it is Duque who approved the appointment of the executive officials who are allegedly members of the mafia.

On the other hand, the Health Secretary dismissed Keith's claim.

"I deny this. [It's] absolutely malicious, without basis. I do not wish to dignify that allegation," Duque said.

During the same hearing, PhilHealth regional vice president Dennis Adre backed Keith's previous claim that the incumbent executive committee of the state health insurer is the "mafia" behind several alleged irregularities.

Duque admitted that there might be some syndicates running "nefarious" activities in PhilHealth but dodged questions as to whether PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales was involved.

"Wala po akong alam na ebidensiya na iniuugnay si General Morales direktamente doon sa mga naturang fraudulent claims," he said.

"Madali pong mag-speculate pero dapat ang evidence, ang data ay makita natin kung mayroon mang direktamenteng kinalaman ito sa mga katiwalian na nabanggit ninyo," he added.

Morales was absent in the Senate hearing as he is currently on medical leave. -NB, GMA News