MANILA (UPDATE) - Six regional vice presidents of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) have filed their leaves of absence as authorities look into alleged corruption in the state insurance agency, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Sunday.
The following filed their voluntary official leaves beginning Monday, based on their letter to PhilHealth Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, a copy of which was obtained by media:
- Paolo Johann Perez, regional vice president in Mimaropa
- Valerie Ann Hollero, regional vice president in Western Visayas
- Datu Masiding M. Alonto Jr., regional vice president in Northern Mindanao
- Kadiuzzman M. Macabato, regional vice president in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
- Dennis Adre (floating status since September 2019)
- William Chavez (floating status since September 2019)
The PhilHealth officials said they filed their leaves following the justice department's call and in support of investigations.
"This will give investigators a free hand in finding out those responsible and finally bring them to account," they said in their letter dated Aug. 15, 2020.
In a statement, Roque said the six officials are not members of the so-called "mafia" in the agency.
"They were, in fact, referred to as 'heroes' by PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading during his Senate testimonies," Roque said.
"We consider this as the right and proper thing to do," Roque said of the six officials' move to go on leave.
The Department of Justice has formed a task force to look into claims of anomalies in the state insurance firm, as both chambers of Congress and the President's anti-corruption body launched separate inquiries as well.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who confirmed that he received a copy of the letter, said he was glad that the regional officials heeded his call for them to take a leave.
Guevarra said he hoped officials from the PhilHealth's main office and other people tagged in corruption issues would also go on leave.
Commissioner Greco Belgica of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission welcomed the regional officers' move and urged other PhilHealth officials to follow.
"We encourage everyone in the name of justice and transparency — ‘yung mga heads of office diyan sa board, sa region, saka sa execomm (executive committee), mag-leave na muna, especially ‘yung mga involved sa imbestigasyon,” he said in a news forum.
(We encourage everyone in the name of justice and transparency —members of PhilHealth's board, executive committee, and regional officers to take their leaves, especially those involved in the investigation.) --With reports from Arianne Merez, Katrina Domingo, and Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News