President Rodrigo R. Duterte
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has the powers he needed to address the country’s problems, including the alleged massive corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this comment after Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor said the Committee on Public Accounts, which he chairs, and the Committee on Good Government have started looking into the possibility of granting emergency powers to Duterte to fix the PhilHealth mess.
“We know that beyond theory that the President has the powers that he needs to address the problems of the nation. Pero nagpapasalamat po kami sa suportang pinapakita siyempre ng mga supporters at kaalyado ng Presidente (But we are thankful for the support being shown by his supporters and allies),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.
Roque, a former congressman, refused to comment any further saying he has yet to read the proposal himself.
He said it is best to wait for the nature, scope, and effectivity of such emergency powers.
“Well, we welcome the willingness of the House of Representatives to give such emergency powers to the President pero hindi po ako maka-komento kasi di ko pa nakikita kung ano talaga yung rekomendasyon (but I can’t comment because I haven’t seen the recommendation),” he said.
He, however, said the proposal is welcome if it is really necessary to make reforms within the state insurer after its officials were accused of siphoning its funds.
“Nais ko po muna makita kung ano ang specific emergency powers na gusto ibigay po ng Kamara at ‘yan naman po ay most welcome kung talaga pong kinakailangan (I want to know the specific emergency powers that the Congress wants to five and that will be most welcome if it’s really necessary),” he added.
Asked if the proposal was constitutional, Roque emphasized that the Congress has the power to grant emergency powers to the President.
“In so far as the power of Congress is concerned, they have the power to grant emergency powers pero hindi ko pa po alam kung anong detalye (but I don’t know the details) so I cannot give a professional opinion on its constitutionality,” he said.
If it were up to him, Roque said he would even have the PhilHealth replaced by the National Health Service as he proposed in the initial version of the Universal Healthcare bill.
“Yung aking bersyon ng Universal Healthcare binuwag ko po ‘yan at nais ko sana palitan ng National Health Service. Kasi nga kapag binuwag po, puwede mo tanggalin lahat ng tao diyan (In my version of the Universal Healthcare, I abolished it and wanted to replace it with the National Health Service. Because if you abolish it, you can remove all the people there),” he said.
Gierran’s appointment paper
On Monday, Duterte named Gierran PhilHealth chief and ordered him to implement a reshuffling within the corrupt-ridden state insurer.
Roque confirmed the existence of the appointment paper of Gierran who has yet to receive a copy of it.
“I believe he has because no less than the President announced it. Kung hindi nakakarating sa kanya siguro time lag lang ‘yan (If it hasn’t reached him yet, perhaps it’s just a time lag),” he said.
He said the Palace will leave it to the appointees to release their own appointment papers.
Meanwhile, Roque said Duterte would rely on the findings of Task Force PhilHealth including on the allegations that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is “godfather” of the so-called PhilHealth mafia.
“The President will respect the findings of his own task force because it is composed of individuals not only with the required qualification to determine capability but also the power precisely to determine this kind of capability dahil kasama po diyan ang Ombudsman at saka ang Civil Service Commission (because it includes the Ombudsman and Civil Service Commission),” he said. (PNA)