Six regional vice presidents of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) have gone on leave as corruption allegations hound the agency.
Malacañang, however, noted that these officers are not part of the “mafia” supposedly involved in PhilHealth fund anomalies.
In a statement on Sunday, August 16, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the 6 have filed their leave of absence.
The officers wrote a letter to PhilHealth administration about their decision, and sent a copy to Roque, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara, and lawmakers looking into the PhilHealth mess, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday.
According to the Inquirer, the regional vice presidents who will be on leave effective Monday, August 17, are:
- Paolo Johann Perez (Mimaropa)
- Valerie Anne Hollero (Western Visayas)
- Datu Masiding Alonto Jr (Northern Mindanao)
- Khaliquzzman Macabato (Bangsamoro)
- Dennis Adre
- William Chavez
Adre and Chavez have been on floating status since September 2019, as stated in the letter, noted the Inquirer.
Roque added that the 6 “are not the ‘mafia’ referred to by Senator Panfilo Lacson,” who is part of the Senate probe into the matter. “They were, in fact, referred to as ‘heroes’ by PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading during his Senate testimonies.”
Roque said the officers heeded the justice department’s call for accused officials to temporarily leave their posts. “We consider this as the right and proper thing to do,” he continued.
In a separate statement on Sunday, Guevarra urged PhilHealth executives at the main office who have been tagged in alleged anomalies to also go on leave. This would allow the government’s Task Force PhilHealth, which he heads, to “freely perform its mandate” of looking into the scandal. (READ: Gov’t task force also uncovers alleged rampant corruption in PhilHealth)
Roque also called on the other accused officials “to follow their action and go on leave.”
Senators had likewise urged the agency’s top executives to go on leave while investigations are ongoing. They also push for the suspension of these officials as another option.
Whistleblowers accuse PhilHealth officials, including its president and CEO Ricardo Morales, of misusing funds amounting to as much as P15 billion. PhilHealth has denied these allegations. – Rappler.com