MANILA – Malacañang has deferred to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales to decide on the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act or Republic Act 11223.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Morales suggested that the former could take his place in implementing the Universal Health Care law.

In a congressional hearing last Tuesday, Morales stressed the need to delay the implementation of the Universal Health Care law, citing lack of funds but Roque questioned his alleged inaction over corruption issues within the state-run agency.

Roque, among the principal authors of the law, reminded Morales that President Rodrigo Duterte certified Universal Health Care as urgent to assure its passage in the Congress.

“I leave it to General Morales, kung sa tingin niya ako lang ang nagsasalita, think again. Bagama’t ako po ang nagsulong ng Universal Health Law, certified urgent po iyan ng Presidente (if he thinks I’m the only one speaking, think again. Even if I am the one who pushed for Universal Health Law, the President certified it as urgent),” Roque said in a Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday.

He said that if the PhilHealth chief refused to act on corruption, it was his call.

“Uulitin ko po itinalaga siya matapos na-dismiss ang buong board at ang dating presidente dahil sa alegasyon ng korapsyon. Kung talagang sa tingin po niya ay walang dapat gawin sa korapsyon, I leave it to him (I will repeat, he was appointed after the board and the previous president was dismissed because of corruption allegations. If he thinks he shouldn’t act on corruption, I leave it to him),” he added.

Earlier, Roque said he would ask Duterte to hold a meeting with him and Morales to address the problems hounding PhilHealth.

Roque lamented that until now some PhilHealth officials are still involved in irregularities under the leadership of Morales.

He added that Duterte considers the continuing corruption in PhilHealth as a cause for concern, especially since he had “zero tolerance” for corruption.

In June last year, Duterte asked then PhilHealth acting president Roy Ferrer and board members to resign to “have a clean slate absent of any taint of irregularity in rendering services, as well as implementing pertinent policies on health, including the Universal Health Care Act.”

The Universal Health Care law, signed by the President on February 20, 2019, automatically enrolls all Filipinos in the government’s health insurance program.

The law aims to give every Filipino quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded, fairly financed, and appropriately used. (PNA)