Ex-PhilHealth chief Morales not yet off the hook even after resignation: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 03:36 PM

Ex-PhilHealth chief Morales not yet off the hook even after resignation: Palace 1
PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales appears at a Senate hearing on alleged corruption at the state health insurer, Aug. 14, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Resigned Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) president and CEO Ricardo Morales may still be held liable if found guilty of lapses or anomalies during his term as head of the state health insurer, Malacañang said Thursday.

Morales tendered his resignation on Wednesday, heeding the call of President Rodrigo Duterte over the former's medical condition. The former Army general is undergoing treatment for cancer.

Despite the resignation, the retired military officer may still be held criminally liable for any wrongdoing during his stint at PhilHealth, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

"The law is very clear: If there is a criminal liability incurred when you are in office, it subsists; and public officers can be held liable for them whether or not they continue to be in office," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

PhilHealth is under investigation over alleged systemic corruption, including billions worth of allegedly overpriced procurement and overpayments to favored hospitals.

Roque, who had previously said Morales "failed" to clear PhilHealth of corruption, also brushed off comments made by the retired general for him to take over PhilHealth.

"Well, General Morales, I’m praying for your good health. May you recover and may you live long," Roque said.

"I’m Presidential Spokesperson po, I’m busy with my job right now," added the official, who has been vocal about alleged corruption at the agency.

President Duterte has yet to choose a replacement for Morales as Roque said the chief executive is taking his time on the decision.

"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 return the confidence in PhilHealth.)

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.