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Morales admits asking Keith to ‘liaise’ with PACC chief about COVID package, says not for ill motive

PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales on Tuesday admitted that he indeed ordered former anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith to talk to Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) chief Greco Belgica, but not to iron out the issue on "overpriced" COVID-19 testing case rates.

During a Senate hearing, Morales said PhilHealth maintains that there was no overpricing that transpired.

"I asked him to liaise with PACC because at that time, after the, I think the Senate hearing, when the case rate of the COVID testing was brought up, we were charged that our testing rates were overpriced," Morales said.

"I thought that a simple clarification with PACC would resolve the matter. I did not tell him to massage, I never used that word," he added.

The PhilHealth chief said he told Keith to stop the coordination efforts immediately after receiving a formal subpoena from the PACC.

"I told him to stop the liaison because it would already be interfering with the formal investigation," Morales said.

During the previous Senate hearing, Keith claimed that he was ordered by Morales to talk to Belgica to iron out the issue of PhilHealth's "overpriced" COVID-19 test package.

"'May pagkakaton na inutusan pa po ako ni Brig. Gen. Ricardo Morales na puntahan ko si Commissioner Greco Belgica para ang hilutin ang kaso ng PhilHealth sa overpriced testing kits," he said.

"Inayawan ko po ang utos at sinabi ko po kay Brig. Gen. Morales 'Ano na lang po ang tingin sa akin ni Commissioner Greco Belgica kapag pakikiusapan ko siya hinggil sa kaso?' Namula po si Brigadier General Ricardo Morales," he added.

In May, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the Department of Health to review PhilHealth's testing package.

PhilHealth explained that its COVID-19 test package was priced at P8,150 due to higher demand and limited supply of test kits during the initial onslaught of the pandemic.

But soon after, the price was halved to P4,200. — BM, GMA News