Duterte accepts resignation of PhilHealth's Morales, search on for successor

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 12:55 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2020 03:48 PM

Duterte accepts resignation of PhilHealth's Morales, search on for successor 1
PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo C. Morales attends a Senate hearing on alleged fraudulent medical claims, Aug. 14, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the resignation of PhilHealth CEO and President Ricardo Morales, Malacañang said Thursday.

Morales tendered his resignation on Wednesday, heeding the call of Duterte for him to step down because of his medical condition. The former Army general is undergoing treatment for cancer. 

"Tinanggap na po ang resignation ni General Morales, wala pa pong kapalit," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

(The resignation of General Morales has been accepted. There is no replacement yet.)

"Wala naman po timeline kung kailan magtatalaga ng kapalit si Presidente pero ang kinakailangan pong iupo diyan ay walang bahid ng korapsyon.." Roque added.

(There is no timeline for choosing a replacement but the successor should be free of corruption.)

Duterte had asked Morales to step down due to his medical condition, the justice department earlier said. 

Duterte is taking his time in deciding Morales' replacement, Roque said after the President vowed earlier this week to use the last remaining two years of his term to attend to PhilHealth concerns.

"Ang sabi nga niya (Duterte), iyong natitirang dalawang taon niya igugugol niya diyan sa paglilinis ng PhilHealth. So kinakailangan ang maa-appoint niya diyan magiging kabalikat niya sa pagbabalik-tiwala ng taumbayan sa PhilHealth," Roque said.

(Like what he said, he would use his last two years to clean up PhilHealth. So he needs to appoint someone he can rely on to restore public confidence in PhilHealth.)

Morales on Wednesday thanked the President for allowing him to take a rest.

“Nagpapasalamat na rin ako sa Pangulo na pinayagan niya akong magpahinga. Maaatupag ko na iyong aking kalusugan at iyong aking pamilya,” he told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo. 

(I also thank the President that he has allowed me to rest. I can now take care of my health and my family.)

Morales, a former military general, earlier this month sent a medical certificate signed by his attending oncologist disclosing that he was undergoing cancer treatment. 

The disclosure was made while PhilHealth was under investigation over alleged systemic corruption, including billions worth of allegedly overpriced procurement and overpayments to favored hospitals.

The PhilHealth board has selected executive vice president and chief operating officer Arnel De Jesus as officer-in-charge pending appointment of a new agency head. He had earlier skipped Senate hearings on alleged PhilHealth corruption citing health issues.