MANILA – Malacañang on Friday expressed dismay over Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales’ attempt to avoid a “damaging” issue plaguing the state insurer under his leadership.

In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque lamented that Morales was trying to escape responsibility for the continuing corruption within PhilHealth.

“The remarks of (PhilHealth) President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales are yet another attempt to divert attention from a damaging issue, which is that the PhilHealth head has failed to clean up the agency, which was the mandate given to him by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Roque said.

He was responding to Morales’ advice for him to file cases against corrupt PhilHealth officials if he has sufficient evidence to prove his claim.

Roque said Morales need not wait for the court to act on the corruption issues surrounding PhilHealth.

He said Morales, as head of PhilHealth, can either suspend or ax erring personnel of the state corporation.

“Mr. Morales has the wrong view that only the courts can remove scoundrels in PhilHealth when in truth, he has administrative powers to suspend and remove them,” Roque said.

On Thursday, he questioned Morales’ supposed lack of action to address corruption within PhilHealth.

Roque also expressed disappointment that until now, some PhilHealth officials are still engaged in unlawful activities under Morales’ watch.

Fix PhilHealth, stop corruption

In his latest statement, Roque raised the worry that Morales is taking the advice of lawyers “who are the ones responsible for the pitiful plight of the agency.”

“A case in point was when Mr. Morales took the advice from his counsels to withhold official documents in relation to the WellMed ghost dialysis scam. The National Privacy Commission had to opine what any person should know — that Internet privacy is not a shield from investigation for graft and corruption,” he said.

Roque said Morales should do his job to stop the corrupt activities of erring PhilHealth personnel.

It is about time for Morales to “fix the organization and eliminate corruption,” he said.

“I enjoin cavalier Morales to engage in self-examination whether he has made our people trust PhilHealth and whether his continued service in the agency would be a service to this nation, which we both love so dearly, or whether his talents can be better utilized elsewhere,” Roque said. (PNA)