Is Duterte looking to replace PhilHealth chief Morales?

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 03:59 PM

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 will wait for the findings of the multi-agency task force investigating alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) before he decides on the fate of officials of the state insurer, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Duterte has yet to mention any plans to replace or relieve PhilHealth officials, including its president, Ricardo Morales, Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque said following calls for a new PhilHealth head.

"Kung magtatalaga po ng bagong presidente ng PhilHealth si Presidente (Duterte), wala pa pong ganoong sinasabi ang ating Presidente. Hihintayin niya ang rekomendasyon at ang mga desisyon ng task force," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(President Duterte has yet to mention any plans to appoint a new PhilHealth president. He will wait for the recommendation and decision of the task force.)

Morales, along with other officials, are being investigated over their alleged involvement in anomalous transactions, including the procurement of overpriced computers and other materials, in the state-run insurance firm.

The PhilHealth chief has belied the allegations, saying several "corrupt officials" are trying to discredit the insurance firm's modernization program that would make flagging irregularities easier.

After being summoned to attend legislative inquires anew, Morales made public his battle with lymphoma as he sought a medical leave from work.

The public admission prompted a union of PhilHealth workers to call on Duterte to find a replacement for Morales as he undergoes medical treatment.

Roque said the President wishes Morales a speedy recovery after the retired military general admitted undergoing chemotherapy.

"The President wishes president Morales speedy recovery. Hindi naman po niya didiinan ang tao na nagsasabi na mayroong malubhang karamdaman. We wish him the best and we hope that he recovers right away," Roque said.

(He won't beat down a person admitting to have a severe illness.)

But should Morales decide to leave PhilHealth, Roque assured the public that there is a system in place to ensure a smooth turnover to his successor.

"Kahit ano po maging desisyon ni Gen. Morales, eh mayroon talagang system in place para magpatuloy po ang trabaho ng kahit anong organisasyon sa gobyerno," Roque said.

(Whatever Gen. Morales decides to do, there is a system in place to ensure that government work will continue.)

Duterte on Monday night vowed to go after corrupt officials in PhilHealth.

"Itong PhilHealth, sabi ko, yayariin ko kayo. Maniwala kayo. Yung mga inosente naman, wala kayo dapat i-ano. Tahimik lang kayo at continue working," Duterte said.

(To those in PhilHealth, I will go after you. Believe me. To the innocent ones, stay silent and continue working.)