THE Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, November 25, 2022, sought to defend the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to appoint Emmanuel Rufino Ledesma Jr. as the acting president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), saying it falls well within his prerogative.

In a press conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they support the appointment of Ledesma as head of PhilHealth despite previously serving as president and CEO of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (Psalm).

"We welcome the appointment of Emmanuel Rufino Ledesma Jr. as the acting president and CEO of PhilHealth," said Vergeire.

"It is the prerogative of the President who he appoints," she added.

The health official added they believe that Ledesma has the qualifications and experience on management and governance.

"PhilHealth is just like any other agency. You just need to have technical know-how, especially finance scheme, actuary, on insurance system. But part of the work will also be managerial because you are going to oversee and guide the entire organization on the delivery of the objectives of your mandate," Vergeire said.

Vergeire expressed the readiness of the entire PhilHealth board to assist Ledesma in adjusting to his new role.

"We will guide and work together with Mr. Ledesma with this position that he has been given," said Vergeire.

Last Thursday, Malacañang announced the appointment and oathtaking of Ledesma as acting PhilHealth president and CEO.

Prior to Ledesma's appointment, Eli Dino Santos had been serving as officer-in-charge of PhilHealth, which is an attached agency of the DOH.

Undersecretary Tayag

In a related development, Vergeire said that Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag had already taken his oath last week.

"He assumed his position already. He was assigned to our Field Implementation and Coordination Team and is in charge of the Northern Luzon area," said the DOH officer-in-charge.

This meant that Tayag shall oversee the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon.

"He is in charge of overseeing the operations of our hospitals, our treatment and rehab centers, and our regional offices and, of course, coordination with LGUs there," said Vergeire.

Last week, Tayag was appointed as the newest DOH undersecretary. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)