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‘Close confidant’: Morales now doubts credibility of ex-aide-turned-PhilHealth whistleblower

/ 07:21 PM August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales said Tuesday that he no longer thinks his former aide is credible.

During Tuesday’s investigation of the Senate committee of the whole into allegations of corruption in the state-insurer, former PhilHealth head executive assistant Estrobal Laborte said he resigned because he could no longer stand the alleged rampant corruption in the agency.

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Later in the hearing, Senator Sonny Angara asked Morales about his position regarding Laborte’s credibility.

“Until today, I believe he was credible,” Morales said.

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When asked to elaborate, the PhilHealth chief cited Laborte’s supposed failure to tell him about the information that the latter disclosed to the Senate.

“He did not divulge anything that he said here to me previously. His resignation letter was straightforward and he even thanked me for giving [him] a chance to serve with me in PhilHealth,” Morales said.

Angara then asked if Morales has some ill-feeling towards Laborte.

The PhilHealth chief answered in the affirmative.

“He was supposed to be a very close confidant and obviously he developed even closer confidence with Mr. Cabading and not with me,” Morales said, referring to PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading, who earlier said he flagged the agency’s leadership about the irregularities in a technology project.

At this point, Senator Panfilo Lacson intervened and asked Laborte if he did not inform Morales of alleged irregularities in the agency.

“’Di ba HEA (head executive assistance) ka ni Gen. Morales? Trabaho mo na i-inform siya about anything. Hindi mo ba siya, ngayon lang niya nalaman, hindi mo raw siya iniimpromahan sa PhilHealth?” Lacson asked Laborte.

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Laborte, in response, said he actually informed his former boss about “alarming” findings of the agency’s internal audit report on ICT resources.

“In a form of memo, I wrote him a memo on May 21 informing him of three major findings that I have observed in the IAG (Internal Audit Group) report which is very alarming,” he said.

“I told him na ‘yung proposing overpriced…equipment is a grave offense and so is the non-recording of the details or info for property accounting. May mga recommendations din po ako dun,” he added.

Lacson then turned to Morales and asked him what he did to address Laborte’s findings.

“’Yung mga memo ho niya (Laborte) pinadala ko ho sa  mga staff to reconcile the figures and to explain kung bakit may discrepancy,” he added.

Earlier in the hearing, Laborte told senators that he exchanged messages with Cabading prior to his resignation, lamenting the alleged corruption within the agency.

The former executive assistant said he told Cabading that he is planning to resign by July 15.

“Hindi kaya ng konsensya ko ito, Sir. Tapusin ko lang one year service sa PhilHealth,” Laborte told Cabading in a message in June.

Laborte and Cabading, and resigned anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith earlier came forward to the Senate to testify against alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.

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