Duterte wants proof vs PhilHealth head before firing him, says Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte will not fire Philippine Health Insurance Corp. president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales unless there is evidence against him on the alleged corruption in the agency, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in an interview by CNN, said it would be up to Morales if he wants to go on leave while investigations have been ongoing at PhilHealth.
"The President has said that he will not fire him (Morales) unless there's evidence," he said.
"I think after the evidence are unearthed, the President will move and do the correct thing. He knows that people are counting on PhilHealth at the time of a pandemic and we cannot afford the citizenry to lose their faith and trust in the agency that is most relevant to them when there is a threat of disease," Roque said.
Morales, who hails from Davao City, the hometown of the President, reportedly admitted in a Senate hearing he has shortcomings in going after people involved in the corruption in PhilHealth.
Roque expressed hope that all the investigations separately being conducted by the Office of the President, the Senate and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission would "document the evidence that the President wants to see."
Aside from the three probes, the Office of the Ombudsman is also investigating on the alleged anomalous transactions by a private company with PhilHealth.
"I believed they have been conducting the investigation very quietly and that anytime now, I believe that the Ombudsman would make public also the results of the investigation because I think five months is more than ample time for them to conduct the investigation," he said.
As to the probe being conducted by the OP, through Undersecretary Melchor Quitain, Roque expressed optimism that this will be fast-tracked.
"So, I’m confident that the President will also prompt his own office, Usec. Quitain, a former city administrator of his in Davao, to hasten the investigation so he can decide on the fate of the officials of PhilHealth," he said.
Roque also questioned the attempt earlier by Morales to discredit resigned anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith by saying that he was not an employee of PhilHealth.
"The initial attempt of General Morales to disclaim his employment as being an anti-fraud investigator I think is crucial because that established the credibility of Atty. Keith and I think General Morales knew that as well, that’s why he had to attempt to destroy his credibility by saying he had nothing to do with fraud investigation," he said.
Keith was one of the PhilHealth officials who recently quit after a supposed heated exchanges in one of the meetings over alleged overpriced IT system of the agency.
He had accused Morales of being a coddler or possible leader of a syndicate in PhilHealth.
But Morales had said Keith could have been just vengeful after refusing his application in a position that he was not qualified. Celerina Monte/DMS