‘If I were him, I would resign to rest and recover,’ says Sec. Lorenzana about PhilHealth chief Morales

Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales should quit from his job and take a "much-needed rest" amid a corruption scandal that hit the agency, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

However, Lorenzana, who was an upperclassman of Morales in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), said the decision is still with the cancer-stricken official.

"If I were in his position, I would resign already since it is already a health problem," Lorenzana said of Morales, who was reported to be undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, in a television interview with CNN Philippines.

"If I were him, confronted by that sickness that will incapacitate me to do my job even for a week, a month or six weeks, I think the best thing to do there is for him to resign so he can rest and recover," he added.

Lorenzana is a graduate of PMA "Maagap" Class of 1973 while Morales is a product of PMA "Masikap" Class of 1977.

Lorenzana made the remarks when he shared that the alleged corruption in PhilHealth will most likely be tackled in a meeting between President Duterte and several Cabinet members in Davao City on Monday night.

"The Secretary of Health (Francisco Duque III) will report to him our fight against COVID, and then I don't know if there will be other pressing topics like maybe PhilHealth," he said.

Morales is at the center of a controversy after it was reported that a "mafia" within the PhilHealth's executive committee allegedly pocketed around P15 billion from the state insurance agency using various fraudulent schemes.

The allegation was made by Thorrsson Montes Keith, resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer, in a Senate investigation on August 4.

However, the PhilHealth has vehemently denied Keith's claims.

Morales, along with PhilHealth executive vice president Arnel de Jesus, had told the Senate that they will not be able to physically attend the continuation of the legislative hearing due to medical reasons.

Morales' oncologist had sent a medical certificate to the Senate which stated that he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.

Morales had lamented what he said was a violation of his privacy following the disclosure of his health condition to the public without his consent.