From corruption allegations to this.
Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Vice President for Calabarzon Paolo Johann Perez received a lap dance from a scantily clad woman in his office for his birthday, Senator Richard Gordon said yesterday as part of the chamber’s investigation into the embattled state insurer.
Gordon showed a video clip of what went down in that office party to the media and alleged that Perez is a member of the PhilHealth “mafia” that was purportedly behind the multi-billion peso corruption in the agency. It’s unclear when the footage was taken.
“On his birthday, Perez received the gift. An enormous box in his office. A girl dressed scantily except for underwear danced and gyrated provocatively in front of Perez in the office premises…Perez enjoyed the performance and was seen smiling in the video,” the senator said.
Gordon chided the government official for “not preventing the incident” and for failing to reprimand the employees who were responsible for bringing the female performer to the PhilHealth office. The lawmaker alleged that Perez had already confessed during a Senate hearing last week that his staff planned the birthday bash.
Perez said that the woman showed up in his office, but she was not naked during the celebration. He claimed that he urged his staff — seen raucously hooting on video — to end the party and to just eat lunch.
“It was my birthday, my staff prepared a program. They got a talent to sing, and it’s not true that she was naked. But because the crowd was noisy, she wasn’t able to sing. I didn’t know anything about it, it came as a surprise to me,” Perez reportedly said during the hearing in English and Filipino.
As a consequence, Gordon recommended today the filing of charges against Perez for allegedly violating Section 4 of Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 because the latter supposedly allowed the hiring of the woman in the video “to engage in prostitution or pornography.”
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has asked PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales to resign from his post due to health issues, after the latter revealed that he was under treatment for cancer.
Duterte has stood by the former soldier, who has been accused of being involved in corruption that led PhilHealth to lose as much as PHP154 billion (US$3 billion) since 2013, according to reports in June. It’s unclear if this is including or on top of fresh allegations made earlier this month, that the mafia purportedly pocketed at least PHP15 billion (US$305 million) in 2019. Morales had denied the allegations, and Duterte said he won’t fire him without anyone presenting solid evidence.
Aside from Morales, Vice President for Legal Sector Rodolfo del Rosario Jr. also tendered his “irrevocable resignation” today saying that he has been unable to cope with the six-month preventive suspension without pay imposed by the Ombudsman on all PhilHealth officials who are being investigated.
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