MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte early Saturday said he has ordered the arrest of the owners of a private dialysis center for allegedly claiming payments of nonexistent kidney patients.
"I tell them, 'Arrest the idiot, bring him to Malacañang'," he said in an interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's television show on Sonshine Media Network.
"I will ask him, 'Tell me the truth and I will throw you to the river.' But he will be extricated, we will not allow him to be drowned," he said.
Duterte also said he has ordered a revamp of the PhilHealth management in the wake of the scandal, which he said cost the government billions of pesos.
"For the sheer amount that was lost, I have to reorganize your entity, change maybe all of you, install more systems of accounting and accountability," he said.
"Bakit umabot ng ganung kalaki without necessary checks along the way?"
The President has tasked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to make the arrests and lead the inquiry, including the possible culpability of government employees.
"Arrest them and investigate them right away, no ifs and buts," he said.
He also urged those supposedly involved in the scheme to surrender instead.
"The Filipino people is demanding for truth. I'm very much interested to find out what happened to the money," he said.
Former employees of WellMed Dialysis Center in Quezon City alleged that the firm claimed payments from PhilHealth for dead kidney patients.
The center allegedly forges the signatures of the patients and the scheme ran from 2016 to 2018.
Through its legal counsel, WellMed and its owners had denied the accusations, saying it "would not, in any way, consent to, or participate in any 'ghost dialysis' or fraudulent scheme."