Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president Ricardo Morales may face possible criminal charges if he delays the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
In an interview on ANC, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Morales is mandated to implement the law.
“You cannot delay what the President has promised that when you get sick of COVID, then the state will pay through PhilHealth. That’s not negotiable,” Roque said.
Roque is one of the authors of the law when he was still a congressman.
“This is a law that has to be implemented, it is not his discretion to implement it or not. If he doesn’t, then he commits a criminal act. He will not just be removed. It is a criminal act,” said Roque.
“He can be prosecuted because you cannot violate a law passed by Congress,” he warned.
Roque and Morales have traded barbs over PhilHealth’s proposal to delay the implementation of the law due to a looming budget deficit as a result of the pandemic and the alleged corruption in the agency.
Roque said that if Morales is unable to implement the law, which was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, it could be time to find someone who could accomplish the task.
Morales countered that Roque was welcome to find his replacement.
However, Roque said he was not interested in the position.
On Monday, Morales assured the public that the state insurer has enough funds to sustain operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If he needs additional funds, say so, because the legislators will consider it and if need be, the President will certify the need for further funding as urgent so that Congress can act on it,” Roque said./Stacy Ang