President Rodrigo Duterte would not pressure embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales into resigning, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Duterte has no plan to put a heavy burden on Morales who has been diagnosed with cancer and advised to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“Si Presidente (The President), he’s really a very kind person, lalong-lalo na may sakit si Morales (especially because Morales is sick). He will not add pressure to Gen. Morales. And I think that’s a good trait of the President, not a bad one,” Roque said.
Calls for Morales’ resignation have mounted following his disclosure that he has been advised by his doctor to take a leave of absence to undergo treatment for lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes.
Roque said Duterte is not the one who will decide on Morales’ plan to go on leave.
“I have no information if he (Morales) has or whether or not he actually tendered his leave to the President because (PhilHealth is) a GOCC (government-owned or -controlled corporation). I think the procedure is for him to send it to the board (of directors of PhilHealth) because the board is the policy-making body of any corporation,” he said.
Morales filed a request for medical leave amid an investigation into the supposed irregularities and rampant corruption within PhilHealth.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, as well as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said it would be best for a government official with a serious illness like Morales to relinquish his post.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who has been tasked by Duterte to lead the task force investigating PhilHealth, also urged the officials of the state insurer to go on leave while the agency is under probe.
Roque said Duterte would let Morales decide on his own.
“It’s up to Morales what he wants to do. But the process of the investigation will continue,” he said.
Roque also reiterated that Duterte is still convinced that Morales, a retired military general, is a “man of principle” unless the probe results show that he was involved in anomalous transactions.
He added that Duterte is willing to let go of his allies, including Morales if they are engaged in corrupt activities.
“He (Duterte) wants to await the decision of the task force. That’s why he created it,” Roque said. “He has said, ‘I don’t care if you are my political supporter. I don’t care if you’re close (to) me. If you’re corrupt, then you will have to go.’”
Duterte on August 7 ordered Guevarra to lead a task force to investigate the supposed widespread corruption and irregularities within PhilHealth.
The task force has been directed to audit PhilHealth’s finances and conduct lifestyle checks on the state insurance firm’s officials and employees.
Roque said the task force only has one month to conduct the investigation.
“So let’s allow the process to continue, given that the task force is given only a short period of time within which to conclude the investigation in 30 days,” he said.
In a public address delivered on Monday, Duterte vowed to go after corrupt PhilHealth officials but told “innocent” personnel to continue their work. (PNA)