PhilHealth employees want Duterte to appoint 'caretaker' to take charge amid controversies

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The rank-and-file employees of the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp. have called on President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint a "caretaker" who could temporarily take charge amid numerous controversies hounding the agency.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) — The rank-and-file employees of the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp. have called on President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint a "caretaker" who could temporarily take charge amid numerous controversies hounding the agency.

In a statement on Sunday, a group of employees from PhilHealth-WHITE cited the leave of absence and resignation of its top officials which could be compromising the operations of the agency, while congressional and other probes are ongoing.

"With the leave of absence of two of our most senior officers and the resignation of one, we nonetheless call for President Duterte to put in charge a caretaker who is an expert in the field of health insurance with proven integrity and incorruptibility — someone who is not himself or herself under investigation," the group said.

It added that putting someone else in charge would dispel "all doubts about whitewashing and cover-ups," while ensuring of an investigation that will "weed out" those who are guilty.

The group also called on their fellow employees to carefully scrutinize the issue, after last week's congressional probes uncovered alleged overpricing, manipulation of financial statements, and corruption involving the agency's top officials.

The group also welcomed the conduct of an external investigating body, referring to "Task Force PhilHealth," who could conduct audit and lifestyle checks on employees.

The Department of Justice earlier announced that it will convene top officials from the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President, and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to perform the investigation.

On Saturday, PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales sent a medical certificate to the Senate Committee of the Whole informing it that he had been advised to take a leave of absence due to his lymphoma treatment, days before the second round of grilling from lawmakers. PhilHealth executive vice president Arnel de Jesus also asked to be excused due to an "unforeseen medical emergency."

During the House and Senate probe last Tuesday and Wednesday, PhilHealth officials were accused of stealing some ₱15 billion from the agency, apart from other fraudulent schemes.

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday sought the suspension of officials involved, to allow authorities to make room for a more in-depth investigation on the agency's long-standing issues of corruption.

The Senate panel will convene once again on Tuesday morning to continue its hearing on PhilHealth controversies.