MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday denied that he is eyeing a position at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Roque said the claim of PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, Ricardo Morales, that he was interested in a PhilHealth post could be considered a “demolition job”.
“Pagdating naman po sa PhilHealth, well, sinasabi po ni Gen. Morales interested daw po ako. Demolition po ‘yan (When it comes to PhilHealth, Gen. Morales is claiming I’m interested in a post. That’s a demolition job). I’m not interested,” he said in a virtual presser.
Earlier, Roque accused Morales of failing to act on alleged corruption within the PhilHealth after the latter proposed to delay the implementation of the Universal Health Care law, citing lack of funds.
Roque, among the principal authors of the law, reminded Morales that President Rodrigo Duterte certified the Universal Health Care as urgent to assure its passage in the Congress.
Morales pointed out that the decision on the implementation of the UHC would not come from him but from the policy makers.
Meanwhile, Roque said he would rather leave it to Duterte to decide on issues besetting the state-run insurance firm.
“Iwan na lang natin iyan at hayaan na natin ang taumbayan ang maghusga, at bahala na po si Presidente diyan sa isyung iyan (Let’s leave that behind and allow the public to judge, and it will be up to the President to decide on that issue),” he said.
After Morales described as “premature” the need to hold a meeting with Duterte, Roque said there might no longer be a need to discuss the issues.
“Dahil ayaw naman ni president Morales makipagpulong, siguro ayaw na rin ni Presidente (Because president Morales does want to hold a meeting, perhaps the President won’t either),” he said.
Morales insisted that there were “inefficiencies” in PhilHealth’s operation, not corruption as Roque claimed.
He also belied claims that some PHP154 billion were lost to overpayment and fraud, citing a recent finding by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Meanwhile, Roque said he did not know any person who would willingly swap places with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Roque made his comment after Senator Richard Gordon said individuals interested in taking over Duque’s post could be behind corruption allegations against the top health official.
“Wala naman po akong nalalaman na nag-a-aspire to be Secretary of Health ngayong panahon na ito dahil ito po ang pinakamahirap na trabaho sa panahon ng Covid. So parang kahit gaano ka kaambisyoso, napakahirap namang ambisyunin yung ganyan kahirap na trabaho (I don’t know of anyone aspiring to be Secretary of Health at this time because it is the most difficult job in the time of Covid. So no matter how ambitious you are, it would be difficult to ambition a job as difficult as that),” he said.
Last week, the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered investigation on Duque and other DOH officials and employees over alleged “irregularities and anomalies” on DOH’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The probe involves the purchase of 100,000 test kits by the DOH and news reports regarding the use of UP-invented test kits.
In a virtual presser on June 18, Roque said Duque will be able to answer allegations of irregularities.
“The President has time and again expressed his continuing trust and confidence on Secretary Duque and the President is confident that Secretary Duque can answer all the allegations being looked into by the Ombudsman,” Roque said. (PNA)