After PhilHealth chief's medical leave, Sotto urges severely sick officials to resign

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 07:35 PM

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, presides over the opening of the 18th Congress' 2nd Regular Session, July 27, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said high-ranking government officials who could no longer fulfill their mandate due to their health conditions should resign to avoid "shortchanging" the public.

Sotto gave the statement hours after Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales - who is in the center of alleged corruption issues in the insurance firm - confirmed that he filed a medical leave to undergo chemo therapy for lymphoma.

"Out of delicadeza, if you're sick, you should either take a leave if your recovery is possible; or if it is not possible at a certain time, resign," the Senate President said in an online press conference.

"The public is being shortchanged when you have public officials who cannot perform their work, especially is he has a prevailing health condition," he said.

Sotto said he does not know if Morales will skip the second part of the Senate's investigation, or if the PhilHealth chief would instead join discussions online.

The Senate only received the PhilHealth chief's medical certificate 2 days ago through a Viber message, Sotto said.

"Dapat, noon pa lang [sinabi na nila]," he said when asked about the timing of the submission or Morales' medical leave.

"Baka kaya ayaw nila sabihin, kasi they want to remain in office," Sotto said.

Morales is among PhilHealth officials accused of pocketing some P15 billion through the alleged padding of prices of tech equipment for the insurance agency.

Morales has denied the allegations and said that PhilHealth's modernization plan was being discredited to avoid the agency's shift to a more fraud-proof system. 

"It is his loss" if Morales skips the Tuesday hearing, Sotto said.

"There will be new evidence that will be presented. It is your own loss if you are unable to answer [the allegations]," he added.