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Board designates Arnel De Jesus PhilHealth’s OIC

PHILIPPINE Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) executive vice president (EVP) and chief operating officer (COO) Arnel De Jesus has been appointed as officer-in-charge of the state insurance firm following the resignation of former president and chief executive officer (CEO) Ricardo Morales.

PhilHealth corporate secretary Atty. Jonathan Mangaoang disclosed this during the joint hearing of the House Committee on Public Accounts and Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on the alleged widespread corruption in the agency on Thursday.

“The board yesterday approved the designation of EVP COO Arnel De Jesus as officer in charge, PCEO, effective upon the acceptance of the resignation of BGen. Morales, following the general rules of succession,” Mangaoang said.

De Jesus has skipped congressional hearings, including Thursday’s hearing, due to health concerns including acute coronary syndrome and hypertensive heart disease, among others.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. asked if the PhilHealth’s board of directors had considered De Jesus’ medical condition before appointing him as officer-in-charge.

Mangaoang said while there was no discussion about the matter, he presumed that the board members are aware of it.

“There is no discussion yesterday of his medical condition, Mr. Chair, although I would assume that the board members were aware of his medical condition, given that his medical certificate came out in the papers prior to the third Senate hearing,” Mangaoang said.

Morales stepped down after President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed the belief that it would be “best” for the embattled PhilHealth chief to let go of his current position.

On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Duterte on Monday night acknowledged that Morales needs to “give up his post,” considering the PhilHealth official’s “on-and-off health situation”.

On August 10, Morales filed medical leave upon his doctor’s advice to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy to treat his lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes.

His decision to go on leave also came after Duterte on August 7 directed Guevarra to lead the task force mandated to investigate the alleged widespread corruption within PhilHealth.

Morales’ health condition has prompted calls for his resignation.

Apart from his health problem, Morales has also been in hot water due to his supposed failure to address the supposed rampant corruption within PhilHealth under his leadership.

Morales, a retired Army general, took the helm of PhilHealth in August last year. PNA