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6月23日のまにら新聞から

Morales says premature to meet Duterte over corruption issue; Roque says to be PhilHealth chief a demotion

[ 407 words|2020.6.23|英字 ]

Philippine Health Insurance Corp. president and CEO Ricardo Morales said on Monday that it was "premature" to seek for a meeting with President Rodrigdo Duterte over the alleged corruption in the agency.

This as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied that he was interested in Morales' position, saying it would be a demotion for him.

A word war erupted between Morales and Roque after the former told a hearing at the House of Representatives the need to postpone the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law due to lack of funds.

Roque, a co-author of the law when he was a party-list representative, claimed it would be against the law to suspend the enforcement of the UHC Act as he accused massive corruption in PhilHealth, which Morales allegedly failed to address.

He had challenged Morales that both of them meet with Duterte to discuss the matter.

"I think it's premature to go to the President without the solution," Morales said in the "Laging Handa" virtual press briefing.

Morales said when he was appointed as PhilHealth chief after Duterte asked the resignation of his predecessor Roy Ferrer and six board members over alleged fraudulent practices in the agency, the supposed P154-billion loss in financial statements of PhilHealth was an issue.

But Morales noted that in the recent opinion of the Commission on Audit, the latter told PhilHealth that it could not substantiate the P154 billion loss in financial statements from 2013 to 2017.

"In effect, the P154 billion was not missing," he said.

Morales acknowledged that there could be "inefficiencies" in the agency due to the large volume of transactions.

"But I can assure you that there is no group of people colluding with each other to defraud PhilHealth in this scale reported," he stressed.

Meanwhile, in his regular virtual press briefing, Roque said that he was not interested in Morales' post.

"That's demotion. I'm not interested," he said.

Also asked on the claim of Senator Richard Gordon that there could be individuals targeting the position of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Roque said he was not aware that anyone would like to be the new Health chief at this time of coronavirus disease pandemic.

"No matter how ambitious (a person is), it's very difficult to aspire for that job," he said.

Duque and other Health officials are now subject of investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged irregularities in relation to the government's COVID-19 response. Celerina Monte/DMS