PhilHealth chief seeks medical leave as probes on agency's controversies continue

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 10)— The head of the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corporation on Monday revealed he has “relayed his intentions” to take a medical leave, after it was revealed that he has been undergoing treatment for a health condition.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Philhealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales— who had been undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes— said his request is still up for approval by his superiors.

“I have already relayed to my bosses my intentions, and it’s up to them to decide. My fate is in their hands. Medical leave. But they still haven’t decided, so I’m still awaiting,” Morales said in an interview with The Source.

Morales had earlier asked the Senate if he could join the next hearing on the agency’s issues virtually, as he revealed in a medical certificate sent to the chamber that he has been undergoing treatment since February.

Despite Morales’ request for a leave, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III stressed this won’t hamper lawmakers’ ongoing investigation on the numerous controversies surrounding PhilHealth.

“It won't stop our inquiry and other witnesses and testimonies from coming out. It won't also stop the filing of charges against erring officials of Philhealth if warranted,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

In the upper chamber's first hearing, PhilHealth’s resigned anti-legal fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith claimed that some senior executives have stolen some ₱15 billion from the agency using different fraudulent schemes— an allegation Morales has strongly refuted.

The Senate's second hearing on Philhealth’s issues has been set for Tuesday.

Aside from the Senate, the House of Representatives has also launched its own probe on the controversies surrounding PhilHealth.

A multi-agency task force headed by the Justice Department has also been formed to investigate personnel from the state-run health insurance agency, with the team’s findings and proposed legal actions expected to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte within a month.

PhilHealth had said it will also be ready to face the fresh task force probe.