Senate to push PhilHealth probe as chief Morales files for medical leave

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 11:50 AM | Updated as of Aug 10 2020 12:07 PM

MANILA - Senate will push through with its probe on the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), even after high-ranking officials filed medical leaves to skip the hearings, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said. 

PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales and Executive Vice President Arnel De Jesus have submitted their medical certificates to the Senate Committee of the Whole last week, seeking exemption from the hearings due to their health woes.

"That's fine. It won't stop our inquiry and other witnesses and testimonies from coming out," Sotto told reporters in a text message.

"It won't also stop the filing of charges against erring officials of PhilHealth if warranted," he said.

Morales is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, while De Jesus cited his heart ailment and diabetes, in the documents submitted to the Senate.

Morales earlier decried the release of his medical certificate to the public, saying it was "not respected." He has also repeatedly called the Senate investigation as an "annual shaming of PhilHealth officials."

But the Senate President reminded the PhilHealth chief that the health condition of high-ranking government officials could be made public. 

"I've said it before, when you hold a high public office, you are a servant of, and answerable to, the people," Sotto said,

"There is no privacy. If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," he said.

Morales, De Jesus and other PhilHealth officials are being investigated over their alleged involvement in anomalous transactions, including 
overpriced computers and other tech materials, in the state-run insurance firm.

The PhilHealth chief has belied the allegations, saying several "corrupt officials" are trying to discredit the insurance firm's modernization program that would make flagging irregularities easier.