Health Secretary Francisco Duque III retains the trust of President Rodrigo R. Duterte despite being accused as the “godfather” of the mafia controlling fraudulent activities inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
In an interview with CNN Philippines on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque relayed the president’s continuing trust on the health chief
“If he has ceased to have trust and confidence, then Secretary Duque will no longer be in office because all Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President,” Roque said.
He added that claims can only be substantiated after the investigations on the state-run insurance firm.
“I think everyone is accorded the right to due process, that’s why he created the task (force),” he said.
According to Roque, although cases were filed against Duque in relation to the distribution of free PhilHealth cards during the term of then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, these were dismissed by then-ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in 2012 for lack of merit.
He also defended Duque, who currently sits as PhilHealth ex-officio chairperson, from criticism that he was wearing too many hats.
“In a time of the pandemic, you could imagine that the Secretary of Health will be the busiest person in the country. I think his designation in PhilHealth is because he is ex-officio (chairperson) as Secretary of Health and his designation as IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) chair is also because he is Secretary of Health. So in other words, although there are many hats, it is still in connection with the fact that he remains to be the Secretary of Health,” Roque said.
During a recent Senate hearing, former PhilHealth anti-fraud officer Thorrson Montes Keith told senators that Duque could be considered the “godfather” of the PhilHealth mafia.
Duque denied the allegation but admitted that there could be some syndicates involved in anomalies within PhilHealth.