Roque: No pressure from Duterte on PhilHealth’s Morales
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte will not pressure Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) chief Ricardo Morales, who is facing allegations of corruption in the agency, to resign, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque said Duterte would leave it up to Morales to decide on his next move.
“The President is really a very kind person,” Roque said.
“Especially now that Morales is sick, he will not add pressure to General Morales,” he said.
“And I think that’s a good trait of the President, not a bad one. It’s up to Morales what he wants to do but the process of investigation will continue,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Morales had announced that he would go on medical leave in compliance with his doctor’s advice as he has to undergo chemotherapy.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also in an interview with CNN Philippines, said earlier that he would resign to focus on his health issues if he were in Morales’ shoes.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said PhilHealth officials under investigation or special audit should go on leave while the interagency task force that he heads was investigating alleged irregularities in the state health insurance firm.
Roque said Malacanang expected the task force constituted by the President to impose preventive or outright suspensions or order lifestyle checks after it completes its investigation on alleged PhilHealth anomalies.
The task force was given 30 days to finish the investigation, Roque noted.
He also said Duterte had already expressed belief in Morales’ integrity, courage and principle as a soldier but would await results of the investigation.
“He has said that I don’t care if you were my political supporter, I don’t care if you’re close with [me], if you’re corrupt then you will have to go,” Roque added.
Morales, who has been in his post for a year, has denied involvement in corruption in PhilHealth even as he acknowledged that there was fraud in the agency which he said could not be easily resolved without systemic reforms.