President Rodrigo Duterte has given Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Dante Gierran an ultimatum to rid the state insurer of irregularities by December, Malacañang said on Thursday.

“It is an ultimatum. [Duterte ordered Gierran] to clean up PhilHealth by the end of the year,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.

Duterte appointed Gierran, a former director of the National Bureau of Investigation, as PhilHealth chief in August.

Ex-PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales and seven other PhilHealth officials were recently charged criminally and administratively for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“The president wants to clean up PhilHealth, and that is why the deadline was given to Attorney Gierran, to enable him to clean up the organization. File all the cases that need to be filed, suspend, terminate, whatever you need to do in order to cleanse the ranks of PhilHealth,” Roque said.

Should corruption continue within PhilHealth, Roque said Duterte would seriously consider abolishing or privatizing the state insurer.

“Talagang ang paninindigan ni Presidente either i-abolish or i-privatize ‘yan,” he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier proposed to have Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III head the PhilHealth board and take over Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s role in the firm.

Duque has been widely criticized for his negligence on irregularities within PhilHealth.

Roque said Duterte would consider Sotto’s proposal before deciding on the firm’s fate..

“Ang primary function naman ng PhilHealth is that of an insurance business and therefore it should be the secretary of finance and not the secretary of health chairing the board,” Roque said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro