Morales, PhilHealth SVP for Legal quit ahead of reports

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AN ailing Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President and CEO Ricardo Morales submitted his resignation to Malacañang on Wednesday, as the agency braced for a slew of possibly damning reports from a Cabinet-level task force and the Senate on shenanigans that resulted in multibillion losses.

“Office of the President has received today, August 26, the resignation letter of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation [PhilHealth] President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo C. Morales,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a brief statement late on Wednesday.

Roque said they are now just waiting President Duterte’s action on the matter.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who chairs PhilHealth, thanked Morales in advance for his services, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who together with Morales is a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) alumnus, said he hoped the former general would recover from cancer as he faces legal battles for cases filed against top management during his watch.

Relatedly, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday also welcomed the reported resignation of PhilHealth Senior Vice President for Legal Sector Rodolfo del Rosario.

Guevarra said del Rosario’s resignation “would probably make the investigation being conducted by the Task Force PhilHealth a little easier.”

Del Rosario filed his “irrevocable resignation” effective August 24, saying the “character assassination, unfair accusation and relentless persecution” he experienced have taken its toll on his physical and mental health condition.

“Hopefully this will help me ease some pressure and help me recuperate,” he said in a radio interview.

Aside from this, he said he cannot afford to be unemployed for six months after the preventive suspension order slapped by the Ombudsman against him and other officials. The order that was issued stemmed from an old complaint.

Task force

Guevarra was tasked by President Duterte to lead the task force in investigating the multibillion-peso fund mess at PhilHealth and was given 30 days to come up with a recommendation.

Del Rosario was accused by PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading of being a member of the so-called mafia behind the corruption activities at the agency.

The DOJ secretary said the task force is not in a position to recommend specific replacements for resigned or dismissed PhilHealth officials.

Guevarra also refused to comment on Morales’s decision to resign from his post. “I’d rather lay this matter to rest. Our immediate and urgent concern at the moment is to find a worthy replacement for him,” Guevarra said.

It was earlier reported that President Duterte had asked Morales to resign over his health condition.

Morales is undergoing chemotherapy for his lymphoma and has gone on medical leave.

Guevarra has recommended the creation of an interim management committee (IMC) to supervise the operations of the agency while some of its officials and employees are being investigated.

He said it would be difficult to resolve the problems of the agency if the current officials subject of the investigation remain in their present positions.

Task Force PhilHealth is focusing its probe on the so-called centers of fraud in the agency.

These include the agency’s Information Technology system, the Legal Sector, the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) and lastly on financial management.

Health situation

Morales announced on Wednesday that he would be tendering his formal resignation letter before the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on the same day.

He also confirmed Guevarra’s statement that President Duterte has advised him it would be best for him to resign due to his on-on-off health situation.

“Nagpapasalamat na rin ako sa Pangulo at pinayagan niya akong magpahinga at ngayon maatupag ko na ang aking kalusugan at ang aking pamilya [I thank the President for allowing me time to rest; now I can fully attend to my health and my family], he said in a radio interview.” 

Joel R. San Juan, Bernadette Nicolas, Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco and Samuel P. Medenilla

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