PhilHealth’s Morales grilled on promotion of execs tagged in ‘ghost’ dialysis scam
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators on Tuesday quizzed Philippine Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) chief Ricardo Morales for promoting four agency officials linked to the WellMed “ghost” dialysis scam.
During the Senate investigation into fresh allegations of corruption within the agency, Morales insisted he was unaware that the said officials are facing complaints about their alleged involvement in the dialysis scam.
“I’m not aware that they were facing cases…It’s the first we ever heard of that,” the PhilHealth president said.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III reminded the PhilHealth chief that it should have practiced due diligence before approving the promotion of his officers.
“Don’t you think that is included in the due diligence when you promote officers? But anyway, it’s in the news. As CEO and President, you are not aware of the cases being filed against these people and they have been promoted?” Sotto told Morales.
“They should be answerable first to the cases before you promote them. ‘Di po ba? (Right?)” the Senate leader added.
Morales agreed with Sotto’s position but argued that he was not informed of the cases filed against the officials he promoted.
“Hindi po ako nasabihan na sila’y may mga kaso,” the PhilHealth chief said.
(I was not informed that they are facing cases.)
The officials in question are Cheryl Peña, Dr. Rizza Majella Herrera, Dr. Bernadette Lico, and lawyer Recto Panti, who are facing graft complaints. They were all promoted to Department Manager III in May.
Earlier in the hearing, Senator Francis Tolentino also questioned the PhilHealth chief’s decision to promote the said officials.
“Walang tinanggal, walang na-suspend, na-promote pa,” Tolentino said.
(No one was removed, no one was suspended. They were even promoted.)
The senator, a known administration ally, likewise cited an order earlier issued by President Rodrigo Durerte calling for the resignation of PhilHealth’s senior vice president and board members in a bid to cleanse the agency.
In his response, Morales explained that there was a board resolution regarding the resignation of key officials but it only reached the board members and not the vice presidents.
Morales said he exercised discretion because the agency could not function if all vice presidents resigned, adding that it would be “too disruptive to the corporation.”
But Tolentino stressed that the non-implementation of a board resolution is a “clear and flagrant” violation.
The resignation of key officials could have paved the way for needed reforms in the state health insurance firm amid serious allegations of corruption, according to Tolentino.
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