PhilHealth chief justifies promotion of officials tagged in ghost dialysis scam

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2020 04:52 PM

PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. Photo from PhilHEalth website

MANILA - Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) president Ricardo Morales on Tuesday said he approved the promotion of 5 officials who were tagged in the ghost dialysis scam, insisting that he was not aware that cases have been filed against them.

While they were implicated last year in the anomalous payment of claims for dead patients, "no cases have been filed against them," Morales told senators when asked why the said officials were still occupying posts in PhilHealth.

The officials Morales were referring to are:

  • Rizza Majella Herrera (promoted as Senior Manager, Accreditation Department)
  • Bernadette Lico (promoted as Senior Manager, Corporate Planning Department)
  • Recto Panti (promoted as Branch Manager)
  • Cheryl Wellan (promoted as Senior Manager, Human Resource Department)
  • Lora Mangasar (promoted as Senior Manager, Protest and Appeals Review Department)

"Wala hong kasong na-file sa kanila," said Morales, who told senators that he has been reviewing pending cases as part of his anti-corruption efforts in the agency.

(Cases were not filed against them.)

But Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier presented documents that showed that the said officials have been charged with graft, usurpation of judicial functions, and grave misconduct for their alleged involvement in the ghost dialysis scheme.

"They should be answerable to the cases before you promote them," Sotto told Morales.

"Don't you think that it is part of due diligence when promoting officials?" the Senate President asked.

Morales defended his decision, saying no one informed him that the promoted officials are facing grave charges.

"Hindi po ako nasabihan na may na-file nang mga kaso," he said.

(I was not told that cases were filed against them.)

When Sotto pressed Morales to name who advised him that there were no cases filed against the said officials, the PhilHealth chief said: "Iche-check ko po kung sino ang nagsabi sa akin."

(I will check who told me that.)

NO SACKED OFFICIALS

Morales also defied President Rodrigo Duterte's mandate to require the courtesy resignations of PhilHealth's senior vice presidents and board members after the agency repeatedly figured in alleged anomalies, Sen. Francis Tolentino said.

"Paano mangyayari ang hinihinging paglilinis at reporma sa Philhealth kung hindi sinunod ang utos ni Pangulong Duterte na mag-resign sila?" Tolentino said.

(How could cleansing and reform at PhilHealth happen if the President's order for them to resign was not followed?)

Morales said he kept several officials to avoid paralyzing operations of the state-run insurance firm.

"I wanted to continue operating or running the corporation. A mass resignation... in my opinion would be too disruptive to the corporation," he said.

The PhilHealth chief also claimed that the President's order only covered board members, and not executives.

Morales denied that he was the "coddler of wrongdoing" in the health insurance firm, but when asked about how many officials were fired for their alleged involvement in corrupt practice, he said: "Wala po." (None.)

"Ang pinaka bothersome sa akin ay nilagay siya diyan, si Gen. Morales, clearly so there won't be corruption or lessen it," Sen. Grace Poe said.

(What is most bothersome to me is Gen. Morales was placed there clearly so there won't be corruption or lessen it.)

"But when he was asked about it, he could not answer on top of his head [kung] ano ba ang mga plano mo laban sa korapsyon (what are his plans against corruption)," she said.

"So why rely on someone like him?"