Citing health reasons, PhilHealth chief, vice president skip Senate corruption probe

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 12:45 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2020 12:53 PM

MANILA - Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales and one of the agency's vice presidents skipped the third Senate hearing into alleged irregularities in the insurance agency on Tuesday due to health issues. 

Morales and PhilHealth Executive Vice President Arnel De Jesus sent excuse letters saying they would miss the hearing, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said at the continuation of the chamber's Committee of the Whole investigation.

"We have received a message from Gen. Morales that he is on medical leave... Arnel de Jesus also sent a letter," he said.

"They will not be able to attend the hearing virtually because there is a scheduled follow-up check up," he said.

Morales earlier told the chamber that he is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, while De Jesus said he is suffering from heart ailments and diabetes.

Top PhilHealth officials were supposed to be questioned about the agency's interim disbursement mechanism, and why billions of funds meant for COVID-19 patients were given to dialysis centers and maternity clinics.

PhilHealth is under investigation for alleged corruption, including overpriced procurement of IT equipment and overpayments to favored hospitals, among others.