Manila: A former general who once served as an aide to the Marcoses had been chosen by President Rodrigo Duterte to head a state-run agency currently embroiled in fraudulent insurance claims, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

Retired army general Ricardo ‘Dick’ Morales has been appointed as the new head of the PhilHealth replacing Dr Roy Ferrer who had tendered his resignation last week amid the controversy over the so-called “ghost dialysis” scam perpetrated by certain hospitals in cahoots with certain PhilHealth officials.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Morales’ designation to the post has yet to be formally announced by the President.

Earlier, former employees of the WellMed Dialysis Centre in Novaliches, Quezon City, exposed a racket where the clinic would charge PhilHealth for dialysis performed on patients who were already dead. The scheme had defrauded the government and Filipino taxpayers of millions. PhilHealth also provides health cover for overseas Filipino workers and their families.

“Today, June 18, 2019, the PhilHealth has withdrawn the accreditation of WellMed Dialysis Centre and Laboratory Corporation in view of the fraudulent claims for dialysis services filed on behalf of deceased patients,” the agency, which is under the supervision of the Department of Health, said in a statement.

PhilHealth is run by the government but in recent years its fiscal health had been in the doldrums. Aside from the WellMed controversy, the agency had run up billions of pesos in debt due to mismanagement and fraudulent schemes.

Duque said he is confident that under the leadership of its new chairman, Morales, PhilHealth would be rid of corruption.

Morales had years of fighting corruption under his belt. In 1985 he took part in a coup d’état to oust the family of then President Ferdinand Marco Sr from the palace. As a junior officer he was a close aide to Imelda Marcos. But he had to turn his back on the Marcoses and took the side of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), a group of idealistic military officers.

During one recent event, Duterte recalled that Imelda had once slapped Morales for his involvement in the failed coup against her family.

Morales had also headed the Armed Forces and Police Mutual Benefit Association Incorporated (AFPMBAI) the uniformed service pension cover and most recently the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).