Duterte should start looking for PhilHealth chief's replacement, workers say

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 11:12 AM

PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales at the Senate Hearing on the fraudulent medical claims in PhilHealth, in Pasay City on Aug. 14, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should start looking for a replacement for the head of the state insurance corporation, who took a medical leave while fighting allegations of corruption, a union of PhilHealth workers said Tuesday. 

The insurer's president and CEO Ricardo Morales might not be fit enough to run the agency even after he undergoes treatment for lymphoma, said PhilHealth Workers for Hope, Integrity, Transparency, and Empowerment (WHITE) Vice President Bryan Jabay. 

"With his condition, admittedly sabi nga niya, napakahirap so malaking stress po sa kanya ito especially ngayon na may kontrobersya na ganito," Jabay told ANC. 

(Admittedly, he said it will be difficult so this is a big stress to him especially now that there is a controversy.)

"The President should start looking for a replacement for PCEO Morales if he is going to take a medical leave of absence because that will take," added PhilHealth WHITE president Ma. Fe Francisco.

Two whistleblowers in a Senate hearing last week accused PhilHealth officials of stealing some P15 billion in public funds. Morales also faced allegations of approving millions of pesos worth of overpriced equipment and software, and fund releases to supposedly favored hospitals. 

The replacement for Morales, a former Army general, should have at least 7 years experience in public health, management, finance or health economics, Francisco said, citing the Universal Healthcare Law. 

Health insurance is “technical and complex” so officials should have appropriate skills, said Jabay. 

"Hindi puwede na iyong specialty mo ay hindi congruent sa gagawin mong trabaho. Dapat specific iyong magiging trabaho and qualification mo, hindi iyong generic lang," he said. 

(Your specialty cannot be incongruent with your job. Your job and qualification should be specific, not just generic.) 

Morales has denied that a mafia is embedded in his agency and responsible for anomalies. 

Duterte refuses to fire Morales without evidence, Malacañang earlier said.

The President on Monday said he would hold erring officials responsible. He has also created an inter-agency task force to investigate anomalies in PhilHealth.