After chemo leak, Sotto reminds Morales: 'There is no privacy' for high-ranking officials

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 11:16 AM

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday admonished Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales' statement that his privacy "was not respected" after a medical certificate he submitted to the Senate was leaked to the public.

The medical certificate showed that Morales was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma.

"I've said it before, when you hold a high public office, you are a servant of, and answerable to, the people," Sotto told reporters in a text message.

"There is no privacy! If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!" he said.

Morales' camp submitted his medical certificate to the Senate Committee of the Whole as the PhilHealth chief sought to be exempted from physically attending the chamber's investigation into the alleged corruption in the state-run insurance firm.

"He is advised to complete 6 cycles of treatment during which he will be immunocompromised and vulnerable to opportunistic infections," said the oncologist, whose name was redacted on the document dated August 7 and released to the public on Saturday.

"It is, therefore, in his best interest that I have advised him to take a leave of absence," the doctor said.

In an interview Monday, Morales said he felt his right to privacy was violated and that he has asked his lawyers to look into the matter. 

"I have not finished my chemotherapy sessions and by the way, I really feel humiliated by my medical condition being brought out in public...I feel that my privacy was violated when they published my medical certificate," he said. 

PhilHealth Executive Vice President Arnel De Jesus also sought to be excused from the August 11 Senate hearing, citing his heart ailment and diabetes.

Morales, De Jesus and other PhilHealth officials were accused of approving billions worth of overpriced laptops, software and other tech equipment for the agency's digitalization efforts.

Morales denied the allegations and said that "corrupt officials" are trying to discredit PhilHealth's modernization program as it would make flagging irregularities easier.