Malacañang on Sunday said six Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) regional officials have filed leaves of absence amid corruption investigations.

The six, however, were not members of the PhilHealth “mafia” which, according to resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Keith, misused and pocketed about P15 billion in funds.

“They were, in fact, referred to as ‘heroes’ by PhilHealth board member Alejandro Cabading during his Senate testimonies,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report identified the six regional PhilHealth vice presidents as: Paolo Johann Perez (Mimaropa), Valerie Anne Hollero (Western Visayas), Datu Masiding Alonto Jr. (Northern Mindanao), Khaliquzzman Macabato (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Dennis Adre and William Chavez.

Roque said they went on leave after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra urged those covered by the PhilHealth probe to go on leave.

Malacañang also reiterated Guevarra’s call, saying it would be the “right and proper thing to do.”

“The Palace reiterates the call of [Justice Secretary Guevarra], who heads the PhilHealth Task Force, for those officers under investigation, particularly the members of the Executive Committee who have been named in the investigations of both Senate and House, to follow their action and go on leave,” Roque said.

PhilHealth is the subject of multiple probes over the alleged pocketing of hospital reimbursements and overpriced purchases of equipment. John Ezekiel J. Hirro