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Lacson feels sorry for PhilHealth chief Morales

 Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said on Wednesday that he feels sorry for retired Brig. Gen. Ricardo Morales who reportedly resigned as president and chief executive officer of the graft-ridden Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson

President Duterte had given Morales a ‘’humane’’ way out of the multi-billion-peso scandal at PhilHealth by asking him to resign.

Because of widespread corruption, PhiHealth supposedly lost about P15 billion in overpriced purchases.

Three issues have been raised against PhilHealth. They are  information technology (IT) equipment purchases; financial mismanagement; and unliquidated  interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM).

Morales was given the chance to defend himself of the allegations of massive corruption at PhilHealth when he appeared before the Senate Committee of the Whole (COW) that undertook three successive public hearings.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, committee chairman, was scheduled to submit the committee report for signature by its members before it is taken up for debate at the Senate session hall.

‘’I feel sorry for Morales, not for anything else, but for his health condition. I hate to think that the stress brought about by the intense hearings of the Senate Committee of the Whole may have taken a toll on his already infirm health condition,’’ Lacson said.

‘’In spite of his possible complicity that could make him face some serious legal problems stemming from the report of the Senate Committee of the Whole, I still wish that he wins his bout against cancer and recovers,’’ he added.

Both Lacson and Morales are graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

On the continued stay of Francisco Duque III as Department of Health (DOH) secretary, opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan had this to say: “Kapag tinanggal si Duque, dun lang ako maniniwala na seryoso ang Pangulo sa pagtugon sa P15 billion na ninakaw na pera ng bayan sa PhilHealth.” (If Duterte removes Duque, that’s the only time I  will believe that the President is serious in resolving allegations that P15 billion in members’contributions were stolen.)

‘’At habang nandyan si Duque, mahirap maniwala na seryoso siya sa pagsugpo sa kurakot,’’ Pangilinan added. (While Duque is still there, it is difficult to believe that there is a sincere move to rid PhilHealth of corruption.)

As DOH secretary, Duque is the ex-officio chairman of the PhilHealth board.  

Asked if there is solid evidence against PhilHealth officials to be included in the upcoming Committee of the Whole (COW) report, Lacson replied: ‘’Tama yan. Masasabi namin kami particular ni SP (Senate President) dahil sa pumasok na document at testimony ng resource persons. Nagko-complement sila. Ang mga testimonies kino-complement ng dokumentong hawak ng COW.’’(That is right. I and the Senate President can confirm that because there were documents submitted and testimonies given by resource persons. They complement each other.)

Lacson said that upon the direction of Sotto, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has been given advance copies of the documents.

Queried on the alleged presence of an ‘’in-house Mafia’’ at PhilHealth that operated at the agency, Lacson replied: ‘’Pati Omerta. Code of silence eh.’’

Lacson, COW vice chairman, thanked the insiders who gave damning testimonies and evidence to the COW despite attempts of ranking PhilHealth officials to clam up.

Whether PhilHealth officials no longer have access to documents at PhilHealth offices after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) sent its agents to secure these offices, Lacson said the problem is that they might have already hidden them.

Asked whether members should continue to give their contributions because of the current scandal, Lacson sees a silver lining to all these.

‘’Sa nangyayari ngayon, mukhang may magandang kinabukasan ang PhilHealth kaya tama rin ang panawagan mo na tuloy lang ang contribution. Anyway, wala naman magagawa kundi ma-contribute ang employer at employee,’’ he said. (Because of what happened, there is a good future for PhilHealth and that members should continue giving their contributions. Anyway, both employee and employer cannot do anything but continue giving their contributions.)

‘’At dahil sa kaganapan ngayon at ina-attend ng pamahalaan na katulong ang legislative at executive, palagay ko may patutunguhan. Kaya sana hindi na malaspag ang pondo ng PhilHealth sa mga susunod na panahon,’’ he added. (Because both the Executive and Legislative branches helped each other in investigating this, PhilHealth faces a good future.)

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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