MANILA – Malacañang on Sunday favors Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s call on all officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) linked to multibillion-peso anomalies in the agency to go on leave voluntarily.
“The Palace reiterates the call of the (Department of Justice) Secretary, who heads the PhilHealth Task Force, for those officers under investigation, particularly the members of the Executive Committee (ExeCom) who have been named in the investigations of both Senate and House, to follow their action and go on leave,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque made this remark after six PhilHealth regional vice presidents hailed as “modern-day heroes” by PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading have opted to go on leave.
The six PhilHealth regional vice presidents are Paolo Johann Perez (Mimaropa), Valerie Anne Hollero (Western Visayas), Datu Masiding Alonto Jr. (Northern Mindanao), Khaliquzzman Macabato (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Dennis Adre, and William Chavez.
In a letter to PhilHealth executive vice president and COO Arnel de Jesus, the senior PhilHealth officials said they decided to temporarily vacate their posts to heed Guevarra’s call.
The six PhilHealth regional vice presidents, in the letter, said they would relinquish their posts effective Monday (August 17).
Roque also confirmed that the six PhilHealth regional vice presidents decided to go on leave after Guevarra asked them to do so.
“They chose to go on leave and heeded the call of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra for those whose names are mentioned in the investigation to go on leave,” he said.
According to him, their decision to go on leave is “the right and proper thing to do.”
During the August 11 Senate hearing, Cabading and resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith both denied allegations that the six PhilHealth regional vice presidents were involved in massive corruption within the state insurer.
Keith, in an earlier hearing, said that around PHP15 billion of the agency’s funds have been allegedly pocketed by PhilHealth officials.
President Rodrigo Duterte on August 7 ordered Guevarra to lead the task force that would investigate the supposed rampant corruption within PhilHealth.
The task force has been directed to audit PhilHealth’s finances and conduct lifestyle checks on the state insurance firm’s officials and employees.
Aside from the DOJ, the task force is also composed of representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Anti-Money Laundering Council, National Bureau of Investigation and National Prosecution Service. (PNA)