PhilHealth mess: Whose heads will roll? Roque says he can’t wait to name names
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque can’t seem to wait to announce the suspension, and possibly, the firing of erring Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) officials due to corruption, claiming that it would be the “most delightful experience” of his stint as President Duterte’s official mouthpiece.
“I will be delighted to announce in due course kung sino ang sususpindehin at kung sino ang sisibakin sa PhilHealth,” Roque said. “That would be the most delightful experience of my career as a Presidential Spokesperson.”
The Palace official said this as he rejected clamors that the Duterte administration is turning a blind eye on the alleged massive corruption in the state health insurance firm despite the President’s promise to sack officials even on a whiff of corruption.
Roque, who earlier raised the alarm on alleged PhilHealth corruption, said it is “unfair” to claim that Duterte is letting corrupt officials in PhilHealth go unpunished as he had fired government officials, including those close to him, for illicit activities.
Duterte has indeed fired several government officials over allegations of graft and corruption while in office. But he was also criticized for “recycling” officials he had sacked by reappointing them to other government posts.
“I don’t think that’s a fair statement. Early on sa administrasyon ni Presidente ang unang-una niyang tinanggal ay yung aktibo sa kanyang kampanya na naging kalihim ng Department of Interior and Local Government,” Roque said.
“Tinanggal din niya yung kanyang opisyal na taga pagsalita noong kampanya sa National Irrigation Administration. Marami na po akong sinabi na tinanggal. May tinanggal po siya sa SSS, nagalit pa sakin yung tinaggal niya sa SSS akala nila ako lang ang nagsasalita gaya ng sinasabi ni Gen. Morales na I don’t speak for the President,” he added.
“So napakarami na po niyang opisyales (na sinibak) dahil ang pangako naman ng presidente, zero tolerance sa korapsyon.”
Duterte has ordered the creation of a task force that would look into the alleged corruption activities within the state health insurance firm.
According to Roque, the probe, which will be headed by the Department of Justice, is “not an ordinary investigation” as the task force will have the power to conduct lifestyle checks on PhilHealth officials and issue preventive suspensions.
Among allegations of corruption raised during a recent Senate hearing involved the procurement of alleged overpriced IT equipment; a supposedly questionable release of funds under the corporation’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); and the alleged manipulation of the corporation’s financial status.[ac]
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