Duterte won't fire PhilHealth chief until he has evidence of corruption â Malacañang
PhilHealth CEO Ricardo Morales
Duterte won't fire PhilHealth chief until he has evidence of corruption — Malacañang
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - August 5, 2020 - 3:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the allegations of fraud swirling around Philippine Health Insurance Corp. amid the COVID-19 crisis, Malacañang on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte will not fire the state-run agency's chief until he has evidence of corruption.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told CNN Philippines that, for now, PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales still enjoys the president's trust and confidence.

Roque has long aired his frustration with Morales for his alleged failure to root out corruption within the agency and for stalling the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law which he co-authored.

"My beef against General Morales is, I have no evidence that he is corrupt himself, but when he was placed there by the president...our expectation is that he will take concrete steps to rid the agency of corruption. And yesterday, what worried me was that he admitted that corruption was still rampant and I did not hear steps that he has taken to remove corruption in the agency. That, to me, is the most worrisome," he said.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, former PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Keith on alleged that executives of the state-run agency have stolen P15 billion from its funds.

"What we found at PhilHealth is the crime of the year due to the syndication of the distribution of cash advance, the interim reimbursement mechanism, and the repeated overpricing of purchased IT equipment," Keith told the Senate in Filipino.

Roque on Wednesday said he had a separate source who corroborated that Keith's estimate of P15 billion in funds was being lost annually due to corruption on the agency.

The anti-fraud legal officer's resignation, which cited "widespread corruption" within the agency, prompted the Senate, the House of Representatives and Malacañang to launch its own investigations into the matter.

In addition to this, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission on Saturday said that it would be submitting a report on the findings of its investigation into PhilHealth's system to Duterte on Monday, August 3.

PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica during a Laging Handa briefing said the PACC identified at least 30 individuals engaged in corrupt activities.

Roque on Monday confirmed that the PACC is readying cases to be filed against PhilHealth officials at the Office of the Ombudsman.

A few months ago, the presidential spokesman also filed corruption cases against PhilHealth officials at the Ombudsman's office.

"You know, unfortunately, there has not been any pronouncements from the Office of the Ombudsman. Which is not to say that they're not doing anything because, what I do know is, as soon as we filed the cases, and this was only about five months ago, they already formed a task force to investigate PhilHealth. And I believe they have been conducting the investigation very quietly, and that anytime now the Ombudsman will make public the results of the investigation," Roque said. 

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