By Genalyn Kabiling
The verbal tussle between presidential spokesman Harry Roque and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation president Ricardo Morales escalated on Friday with Roque urging the latter to examine whether his continued stay in the state health insurance corporation will be a service to the country.
Roque made the suggestion after lamenting Morales’ dodging the issue about his inaction in fighting corruption in the agency and has taken things personally.
“Mr. Morales once said, ‘I will make it a point that our members will renew their trust on Philhealth.’ 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,” he said.
Morales recently said he has no problem with Roque’s statement that the government might need someone else to implement the universal health care program.But he said Roque was only the spokesman, and not the President.
Roque had earlier said it would be illegal if Morales pushes through with the delay in the implementation of the universal health program due to limited PhilHealth funds. He said the health care program can be sustained by government funds and implemented by other persons if the current PhilHealth leadership cannot do its job.
In his statement Friday, Roque said Morales’ statement was “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.”
He maintained that Morales could initiate an administrative probe over officials allegedly involved in corruption in PhilHealth.
“Morales has a wrong view that only the courts can remove scoundrels in PhilHealth when in truth, he has administrative powers to suspend and remove them,” he said.
He said Morales has taken advice from lawyers who are supposedly 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 reminded anew Morales about his mandate to clean up the agency.
“It is tragic that Mr. Morales is taking things personally. This is not about me being the presidential spokesperson. This is about President Duterte appointing Mr. Morales to fix the organization and eliminate corruption,” he said.
The word war started last Wednesday when Roque called out Morales for his alleged inaction in addressing corruption in PhilHealth since he was appointed to the top post last year. Amid concerns that billions are reportedly lost to corruption in PhilHealth, Roque said Morales has yet to investigate and file cases against officials allegedly implicated in irregularities.
Morales told Roque to file cases in court if he has proof of corruption.