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Palace invokes executive privilege in refusing to confirm Morales’ resignation from PhilHealth

Malacañang has invoked “executive privilege” in refusing to confirm reports President Duterte has asked Ricardo Morales, president of the corruption-tainted Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to resign.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained that he cannot divulge details of the President’s recent closed-door meeting with some Cabinet members because he is “bound” by such confidentiality rules.

“As a veteran spokesperson and as a professor of constitutional law, there are matters taken up during Cabinet meetings and the President which should not be divulged to the public. What is for public consumption is what is broadcasted every time the President meets the Cabinet and delivers his message to the people,” he said over CNN Philippines Wednesday.

“With your kind indulgence, anything not shown to the public is covered by executive privilege,” he said.

Under Executive Order No. 464 issued in 2005, executive privilege provides that public officials and employees shall “not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest.”

It covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers including conversations and correspondence between the President and the public officials; military, diplomatic, and other national security matters; information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements; discussion in closed-door Cabinet meetings; and matters affecting national security and public order.

Pressed if he cannot confirm the imminent resignation of Morales, Roque said: “I cannot because I’m bound by privilege.”

Roque however maintained that the matter of resignation is a personal decision of any appointee. “If it is indeed filed, it is my obligation to make it public,” he said.

When asked if he expects any resignation from Morales today, Roque said: “I’m not expecting anything but I will do my job.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier disclosed that the President stated it would be best for Morales to “give up his post” during these critical times of the state health corporation. Guevarra, who was present in Duterte’s meeting with several Cabinet officials in Davao last Monday, noted that the President also mentioned the PhilHealth official’s “on-and-off health situation.”

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has already talked to Morales who supposedly understood if he will be replaced, according to the justice chief.

In his taped address aired on state television Tuesday, President Duterte declared he would use the remainder of his term to hold accountable officials involved in the corruption plaguing PhilHealth. He said erring officials must be prosecuted and brought to jail.

Upon the orders of the President, a task force led by the Department of Justice has started its probe into the alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.
Guevarra said the investigation is focused on the “areas of fraud” in the information technology (IT) system, the legal sector, the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), and financial management.

He also asked the President to give the green light to the creation of an interim management committee at the state-run insurer.

Read more: PhilHealth officials quit

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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