Roque to PhilHealth chief: Face and address damaging issues
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday slammed Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) chief Ricardo Morales for diverting attention from his supposed failure to rid the agency of irregularities.
“The remarks of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales are yet another attempt to divert attention from a damaging issue, which is that the Philhealth head has failed to clean up the agency, which was the mandate given to him by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Roque said in a statement.
Morales earlier said there is no problem with him if he is replaced as PhilHealth chief while noting that Roque was “not President” but a “spokesman.”
Roque earlier said that it may be better to find someone else to enforce the Universal Health Care Law since it is unlawful to delay its implementation.
Morales earlier sought for the delay of the program’s rollout ,citing PhilHealth’s declining revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” Roque said.
Last year, the President ordered the entire PhilHealth board at the time to resign after the alleged irregularities were discovered. It was Morales who replaced then PhilHealth chief Roy Ferrer.
Go to court?
Recently, Roque had questioned Morales’ alleged inaction on the corruption within the agency, even asking if that latter had removed any official.
But Morales advised Roque to file cases in court if he has evidence of corruption within 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.
“A case in point was when Mr. Morales took the advice from his counsels to withhold official documents in relation to the WellMed ghost dialysis scam. The National Privacy Commission had to opine what any person should know: That internet privacy is not a shield from investigation for graft and corruption,” he further said.
Last year, Roque said he was denied access to PhilHealth documents that would serve as evidence against the agency’s officials involved in the alleged fictitious dialysis services and fake receipts issued to workers, among other irregularities.
Morales, at the time, said Roque was not entitled to the documents since he was no longer working for the government. Roque only returned as Palace spokesman in April 2020, over a year since he stepped down to make way for his senatorial bid.
“Mr. Morales once said, I will make it a point that our members will renew their trust on PhilHealth.’ 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.
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