Duterte is firing PhilHealth chief Morales in a ‘humanitarian way’ – Sotto
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is giving the ax in a “humanitarian way” to Ricardo Morales, president and CEO of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), by just asking him to step down because of his ailment.
This was the observation of Senate Vicente Sotto III, who recently led a series of Senate hearings into fresh allegations of the corruption and irregularities within PhilHealth.
“It’s a humanitarian way of saying: ‘You’re fired,’” Sotto told reporters in a message when sought for a comment.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who leads a task force investigating the PhilHealth mess, earlier said that the President had taken note of Morales’s health.
“[The President] stated that it would be best for the latter [Morales] and for PhilHealth to give up his post during these critical times for the agency,” Guevarra said.
Morales is battling cancer and currently on medical leave.
For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson admitted feeling sorry for Morales despite the latter’s “possible complicity” in alleged anomalies plaguing the state insurer.
“I hate to think that the stress brought about by the intense [Committee of the Whole] hearings may have taken a toll on his infirm health condition,” Lacson said in a message.
“In spite of his possible complicity that could make him face some serious legal problems, I still wish that he wins his bout against cancer and recovers,” he added.
In July 2019, Duterte appointed Morales, a retired Army brigadier general, as PhilHealth president and CEO to rid the agency of corruption.
But a year later, Morales admitted during a Senate hearing that he had not fired a single PhilHealth official due to corruption, citing a lack of substantial evidence against them.
Senators had also scored Morales for promoting four officials currently facing graft complaints about their alleged involvement in the WellMed “ghost” dialysis scam that was uncovered in 2019.
Morales insisted he was unaware that complaints had been filed against the officials he had promoted.
The PhilHealth chief also denied being a “coddler” of a “syndicate” within the agency that allegedly pocketed P15 billion of funds through various schemes.
Sotto and Lacson earlier said Morales could have either been “blindsided” by his subordinates, who had been in the agency years before him, or he was complicit in the alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.
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