Health should come first, Palace tells Morales

Health should come first, Palace tells Morales

PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales (File photo)

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday advised cancer-stricken Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales to prioritize his health amid the controversies hounding the state-owned corporation.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said while there is no advice from President Rodrigo Duterte, it would be best for Morales to focus on his health.

“Bagama’t hindi naman po siya sinasabihan ng Presidente kung ano ang dapat gawin, talagang health should come first. Sa akin, tutukan na muna niya ang kaniyang kalusugan (While the President has not said anything, health should come first. For me, he should focus on his health first),” Roque said in an interview with dzBB.

He issued the statement a day after he said Duterte would not pressure Morales into resigning, considering the PhilHealth chief’s health condition.

Morales, who has been diagnosed with lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes, will take a medical leave starting next week as he was advised by his doctor to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy.

His disclosure that he has cancer came after Duterte ordered the Department of Justice to lead the task force that would investigate the supposed rampant corruption within PhilHealth.

Roque expressed confidence that the task force would be able to resolve the issues that continue to plague PhilHealth.

“Lahat naman iyang kontrobersiya na iyan sa PhilHealth, lahat po iyan ay malalabas ang katotohanan (The truth about all the controversies involving PhilHealth will be revealed), but health should come first,” he said.

PhilHealth was once again mired in controversies after resigned anti-fraud legal officer Thorsson Montes Keith bared that all members of PhilHealth’s executive committee have stolen PHP15 billion from the agency’s funds.

Roque said he was dismayed by Morales’ failure to address the widespread corruption in PhilHealth under his leadership.

“Pinalakas pa niya ang kanilang mga posisyon na para bagang ni-reward pa niya imbes na imbestigahan. So, parang tingin ko doon lang nagkulang siguro si Gen. Morales, mali iyong tiwalang inilagay niya (He gave them more power instead of investigating them. The way I see it, Gen. Morales failed to act on it. He put his trust on the wrong persons),” he said.

To stop suspicion on their possible involvement in corrupt activities, most of the senior officials of PhilHealth on Wednesday agreed with House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte to open their bank accounts to scrutiny by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

However, Morales, along with PhilHealth executive vice president Arnel de Jesus and senior vice president Rodolfo del Rosario Jr., failed to respond to the challenge posed by Villafuerte as they left the House hearing early due to health reasons.

Roque expressed optimism that Morales would also sign a bank secrecy waiver to allow AMLC to check his bank deposits and transactions.

“Siguro po, kaya naman hindi nakapagbigay ng consent si Gen. Morales, naiintindihan ko na masama pa rin ang kaniyang pakiramdam at umalis na siya ng maaga (It’s understandable that Gen. Morales failed to give his consent because he was not feeling well and he left early). I’m sure Gen. Morales will also sign such a waiver,” he said. (PNA)

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