Duterte cautious in appointing new PhilHealth chief
President Rodrigo Duterte is careful in appointing a new head of the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. after he accepted the resignation of President and CEO Ricardo Morales amid the massive corruption allegations in the agency.
"The resignation of General Morales has been accepted. He has no replacement yet," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a televised press briefing.
Morales submitted his resignation letter to the Office of the President on Wednesday.
Asked of Morales' possible replacement, Roque said, "Well, there are already names being considered but the President is being cautious in choosing."
He said it is important that the new PhilHealth chief should help in cleaning up and bringing back the people's trust in the agency.
"The President admitted that PhilHealth really needs his personal attention. As what he said, he will focus his remaining two years (in office) in cleaning the PhilHealth," Roque said.
Asked how Duterte felt about Morales' resignation, Roque said, "Well, the President has always been of the opinion that health should come first. That's why he is hoping that the resignation of General Morales will lead to the recovery of General Morales from his current ailment."
Morales, who is undergoing treatment due to lymphoma, quit amid the separate investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice-led inter-agency task force, the Senate and the House of Representatives over the alleged corruption in PhilHealth.
Prior to Morales' resignation, several PhilHealth officials either resigned or suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
He said Morales and other officials were not yet off the hook even if they are no longer in PhilHealth.
"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," the spokesman said.
Roque, one of the authors of the Universal Healthcare Law when he was still a party-list representative, was one of those who criticized Morales over the alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.
Morales reportedly said that Roque could now take over the agency.
Asked if he is willing to take the PhilHealth post, Roque said, "I'm presidential spokesperson, I'm busy with my job right now." Celerina Monte/DMS