PhilHealth exec resigns, vows to still cooperate in Congressional probes

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2020 02:34 PM | Updated as of Aug 06 2020 05:00 PM

Augustus H. De Villa, chief operating officer of PhilHealth, explains the integration of local health system in provinces during a press conference in Legazpi City. Photo by Danica Caballero via Philippine Information Agency

MANILA (UPDATE) - Philippine Health Insurance Corp Vice President for Operations Augustus De Villa on Thursday tendered his "irrevocable resignation", but vowed to cooperate in ongoing Congressional investigations about alleged irregularities in the state-run insurance agency.

De Villa, a retired military officer, did not cite specific reasons for his resignation.

"The Vice Chairman knows fully well the reason. I briefed him earlier today in his residence in Taguig City," De Villa said in his resignation letter, referring to PhilHealth vice chair, president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales.

"Be assured that I will make myself available for the ongoing investigations in aid of legislation in both Houses of the Congress of the Philippines," he said.

Resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorrson Keith earlier told senators he submitted to De Villa several documents showing that the insurance firm was planning to spend P4.81 million to procure 15 network switches, even if the market price was only at P939,360.

Keith said De Villa tore the papers out of frustration, but the latter corrected him and told senators he kept the papers.

"I particularly took note and even admired his honesty... [he] even voluntarily admitted that the papers was still in his possesion," Sen. Panfilo Lacson said of De Villa in a text message to ABS-CBN News.

"I could sense how unease and embarassed he was while hearing what we were all hearing," the senator said.

The Senate has issued a subpoena for the documents in De Villa's possession. The chamber is expected to extract more details of the issue in another hearing on Aug. 11.

"Resigned or not... Gen. De Villa is under a legal order to present it to the committee in the next hearing," Lacson said.

"I can only hope that he will be part of an advocacy group within PhilHealth and contribute in exposing shenanigans based on his personal knowledge," he said.

De Villa's resignation comes a day after Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica said 13 PhilHealth officials would face criminal raps, while at least 23 others would be charged with administrative cases.

- with a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News