PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales, who is currently being investigated over alleged corruption in the state-run agency, said Wednesday that he would take a medical leave next week. The insurer's finances are under scrutiny especially since Filipinos grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic see it as a financial lifeline.
Morales said he would undergo chemo therapy for lymphoma. He did not say if he would attend the Senate hearing on Aug. 18. He skipped Tuesday's hearing where more allegations of wrongdoing were raised.
"Matigas ang ulo ko pero sinusunod ko na ang payo ng doktor at sinabi niya kung gusto kong gumaling I will have to take leave. So next week mag-leleave ako (I am stubborn but I now follow my doctor’s advice and I was told that if I wanted to get better, I will have to take a leave.)," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
Several officials have called for his dismissal or suspension for the duration of the investigations. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte would not fire Morales unless there is enough evidence to prove he is linked to corruption in the agency.
On Monday, Duterte warned those involved in anomalies in PhilHealth that he would go after them. He did not name Morales specifically.
"Kailangan talaga ng PhilHealth ng tulong, hindi namin tinatanggi. Alam natin maraming sakit pero kailangan tulungan dahil maraming matutulungan ang PhilHealth (PhilHealth needs help, we don’t deny that. We know it has many illnesses but we need to help Philhealth because it can help many people)," he said.
Morales added that he is looking for a chance to personally speak to the president.