The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said that it is “grateful” that Secretary Francisco Duque III has not been included in the list of officials who are recommended to face charges over the alleged irregularities hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa ating Pangulo na nabigyan po ng ganitong trust ang ating Secretary of Health [We are grateful to our President for giving such trust to our Secretary of Health],” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an online forum.
“We welcome it. We are very grateful and hopefully, from here on, we continue to work and mas panatag po ang ating pagtatrabaho dahil nagkaroon naman tayo ng ganitong [become more at peace in doing our work because of this] welcome development,” she added.
Vergeire also emphasized that it is not ideal to change leadership at the moment because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we always say, mahirap po magpalit ng ating mga liderato kapag nasa gitna po tayo ng ating sitwasyon dito sa pandemic. It is really hard to have this kind of shift kapag tayo ay meron ng ganitong sitwasyon [As we always say, it will be difficult to have a change in leadership while we are in the middle of a pandemic. It is really hard to have this kind of shift when we are in this kind of situation],” she added.
Meanwhile, Vergeire assured that they are supporting the ongoing investigations at PhilHealth.
“Ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan, pati si Secretary Duque, has always reiterated that (we) support this kind of move. So kung sakali na mapapatunayan sa proper court of law na talagang may mag issues tayo or gaps ang ating mga officials, yung mga nararapat na sanctions ay dapat ibigay [The Department of Health, as well as Secretary Duque, has always reiterated that he supports this move. In case the allegations are proven in the proper courts of law against these officials, then appropriate sanctions should be given],” said Vergeire.
Meanwhile, the legal team of former PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said that they will “vigourously” defend the latter and will “appropriately” respond to the complaints against their client.
“Our client is a man of integrity and completely denies any wrongdoing and the criminal charges against him. And he invokes at this time his basic Constitutional right of presumption of innocence,” said Atty. Arnedo Valera, Morales Legal Spokesman, in a statement.
“As President Duterte has said, he enjoys the presumption of innocence…. Gen. Morales is looking forward to clearing his name,” he added.