President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Presidential photo)
MANILA – Malacañang said selecting a new head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) remains a “huge challenge” for President Rodrigo Duterte amid allegations of corruption hounding the state insurer.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after Senator Christopher “Bong” Go disclosed that Duterte will decide by Monday a replacement for PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Ricardo Morales who resigned last week.
“Malaking paghamon po ang pagpili sa susunod na PhilHealth dahil napakadaming kwalipikasyon na inaasahan po sa bagong PhilHealth president (Selecting the next PhilHealth chief is a huge challenge because many qualifications are expected),” he said in an interview over Radyo Pilipinas on Monday.
Roque said the next PhilHealth chief should not only have knowledge on public health but should also be corrupt-free and have zero tolerance for dishonest activities.
However, he did not mention when Duterte will announce Morales’ replacement.
Earlier, Roque said the resignation of PhilHealth officials will not shield them from possible charges, in case probe results find them liable for the supposed widespread corruption.
Morales, who admitted to have been diagnosed with lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes, submitted his resignation on Aug. 26 upon the President’s advice to allow the embattled PhilHealth chief to focus on his health first.
Several officials are being accused of being members of the so-called PhilHealth “mafia” that is allegedly manipulating the state insurer’s financial records.
Duterte is expected to announce the new quarantine classifications in the country after his meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Monday night.
Next PNP chief
Roque said Duterte may also announce the next chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Outgoing PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986, is set to retire on Sept. 2 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
“Hintayin na lang po natin kung anong sasabihin mamaya ni Presidente. Sa tingin ko po ay magiging kabahagi iyan ng kaniyang mensahe sa ating taumbayan (Let’s just wait for what the President has to say. I think it will be part of his public address),” he said.
Last Sunday, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the PNP will follow the “rule of succession” of command if no announcement will be made on its next chief.
“If no pronouncement will be coming from the President regarding the next PNP chief, by the ‘rule of succession’ of command will be observed and Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan will be appointed as caretaker or officer-in-charge of the PNP,” Banac said in an interview over radio station DZWIZ
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier submitted three names to Duterte as possible successor of Gamboa.
Among the possible contenders for PNP chief are Cascolan; Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, deputy chief for operations and commander of the Joint Task Force Covid Shield; and Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, chief of the PNP directorial staff. (PNA)