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Lacson names 3 witnesses who will discuss alleged PhilHealth irregularities

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday revealed the names of two former and one incumbent Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) officials who would testify regarding the alleged irregularities within the agency.

During a virtual interview, Lacson told reporters that PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading, Estrobal Laborte who was a former executive assistant of PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, and recently resigned anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith would serve as "witnesses" in the Senate hearing on Tuesday.

"Itong tatlong witnesses, they have a lot to say about the anomalies in PhilHealth.. major issues na IRM (Interim Reimbursement Mechanism), financial statement, at saka 'yung procurement ng ICT equipment," he said.

"Si Board member Cabading ito 'yung naka-shouting match during the webinar," he added.

To recall, Keith's resignation letter surfaced to the media last month. He said one of the reasons that compelled him to leave was the supposed "massive corruption" in PhilHealth.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth said Laborte resigned because he decided "to go back to taking his doctoral degree.

Other witnesses were also invited to attend.

Lacson did not disclose further details so as not to pre-empt the hearing but he said these three whom he named have long been airing their frustrations on the supposed irregularities in PhilHealth.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said the two-week lockdown in the Senate, starting on Tuesday, will not affect the conduct of Senate hearings regarding the PhilHealth issue.

He said resource persons shall be required to attend physically at the Senate but other senators can attend virtually.

However, Lacson said Cabading already begged off to fly in from Zamboanga because Metro Manila will be placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine from August 4 to 18. Cabading is expected to attend the hearing virtually.

The nitty-gritty of the PhilHealth hearing, to be conducted by the Senate Committee of the Whole on Tuesday morning, is expected to be finalized during a caucus among the senators at 2 p.m. today.

Also expected to appear in the Senate inquiry are PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel De Jesus, and senior vice presidents, among others.

Morales earlier denied any massive corruption within the agency he heads. — RSJ, GMA News