PhilHealth top official resigns, CEO Morales set to step down

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) — Embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corporation Senior Vice President for Legal Sector Rodolfo del Rosario Jr. has tendered his resignation, while the state agency's President and CEO Ricardo Morales is set to step down on Wednesday amid ongoing investigations of corruption and fraud in the state agency.

Del Rosario said he resigned on Monday following the decision of Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier this month to place him under a six-month preventive suspension without pay amid an ongoing probe.

"As I cannot afford to be unemployed for the next 6 months, and understanding that the Corporation would need an SVP Legal in these trying times, I have tendered my irrevocable resignation effective August 24, 2020. This was a painful decision," he said in a statement sent on Wednesday.

Del Rosario was named by Senator Panfilo Lacson as among the PhilHealth officials who are said to have been manipulating the financial records of PhilHealth through a "deeply-rooted mafia syndicate" despite changes in leadership.

Meanwhile, Morales said in a radio interview that he will submit his resignation on Wednesday following the advice of President Rodrigo Duterte, who noticed his unstable health condition.

“The President took note last night of Morales’ on-and-off health situation, and stated that it would be best for the latter and for PhilHealth to give up his post during these critical times for the agency, " Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.

Related: Duterte wants PhilHealth chief Morales to resign over health issues – Guevarra

Morales on August 10 said he filed for medical leave as he had been undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. Two days later, he suddenly left a House probe on PhilHealth issues, citing his medical condition.

Duterte has been pressed to sack Morales for months now after allegations of corruption and fraudulent schemes within the state insurer cropped up in June. But he has refused to fire the former military officer pending solid proof.

The President ordered a multi-agency task force to investigate the alleged irregularities within PhilHealth. Based on its ongoing investigation, it has identified the "centers of fraud" in the agency.

Guevarra — whose agency leads the investigation team — said they plan to recommend structural reforms and a possible partial or even total reorganization of the state health insurer.

The Justice Secretary said that as of the moment, the probe team has been zeroing in on four specific areas which may have had links to the alleged fraud and irregularities within the agency. These include PhilHealth’s information technology (IT) system, legal sector, Interim Reimbursement Mechanism or IRM, and its financial management.

CNN Philippines correspondent Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.