MANILA - The word war between Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) President Ricardo Morales continues.
Roque, among principal authors of the Universal Health Care Law during his time as sectoral lawmaker, on Friday said Morales "failed" to clean up corruption in PhilHealth after the latter said the spokesman's claims that some P154 billion in state health insurance funds were missing "remains unsubstantiated."
“Secretary Roque does not have access to the operating figures of PhilHealth, so I wonder where he got those figures,” Morales told ANC on Friday.
But Roque said Morales' remarks were "yet another attempt to divert attention from a damaging issue, which is that the PhilHealth head has failed to clean up the agency."
"I enjoin cavalier Morales to engage in self-examination whether he has made our people trust PhilHealth and whether his continued service in the agency would be a service to this nation which we both love so dearly, or whether his talents can be better utilized elsewhere," Roque said of Morales, a retired general.
Roque first criticized Morales on Wednesday over the latter's supposed inaction to address corruption within the agency even as he asked for additional funds for the Universal Health Care Law.
Morales responded on Thursday, saying some 20 PhilHealth executives are already facing charges, and urged Roque to file charges in court if the spokesman has evidence to his claims.
“Kung mayroon siyang (Roque) ebidensiya ‘di i-file niya sa court nang malaman natin kung sino-sino ba ang mga ito at marekober ang pera kung totoo man,” Morales said.
(If he has evidence, file a case in court so we can find out who these people are and recover the funds if it's true.)
Roque, however, insisted that Morales has the authority to address crooks in PhilHealth.
"Mr. Morales has the wrong view that only the courts can remove scoundrels in PhilHealth when in truth, he has administrative powers to suspend and remove them," Roque said.
"It is tragic that Mr. Morales is taking things personally. This is not about me being the Presidential Spokesperson. This is about President Duterte’s appointing Mr. Morales to fix the organization and eliminate corruption," he added.
Morales had said that PhilHealth is open to a third-party audit while Roque said he would seek a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte over the issue.