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PhilHealth chief denies coddling corrupt officials

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) chief Ricardo Morales on Tuesday denied protecting corrupt officials in the state health insurer.

"I deny that I am the coddler of the wrongdoers in PhilHealth and I manifested earlier that if I could have an executive session to be able to explain my side," Morales said at a Senate hearing on alleged corruption within the agency.

He made the statement after Senator Grace Poe said there is a "strong allegation" that Morales is the coddler of corrupt PhilHealth officials.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Morales, a retired Army general, to PhilHealth in 2019. Morales was previously a board member of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

Asked about his anti-fraud efforts at PhilHealth, Morales said he has reviewed cases filed and investigated reports of "discrepancies" in the agency.

He said earlier in the hearing that PhilHealth could have lost P10.2 billion due to fraud in 2019, an amount he said could reach P18 billion by next year if unaddressed.

Thorsson Montes Keith, an anti-fraud officer at the state insurer, resigned recently over alleged widespread corruption at the agency. Keith has accused its executive committee of operating like a mafia. -MDM, GMA News