PhilHealth OIC seeks meeting with Duterte to defend trips
MANILA, Philippines – Amid outrage over her travels, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) interim president Celestina Ma Jude de la Serna appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to listen to her side of the story first.
"If somebody from Malacañang is watching, I am waiting for the President to call me or if I can set an appointment with him, at least hear my side. I only work within the 3 orders of the President," De la Serna told dzMM in an interview.
De la Serna said the 3 orders are to fight drugs and criminality, curb corruption, and serve the poor.
Senate health committee chairman Joseph Victor Ejercito has called on Duterte to sack De la Serna and appoint a new chief, criticizing her "callousness."
Rappler first reported that De la Serna incurred at least P627,000 worth of trips to and from Bohol, as well as hotel stays, in just a year in office.
Resident auditors at PhilHealth have also asked De la Serna to explain her receipt of allowances and per diem, which would amount to almost a million pesos, including the travel expenses.
The controversy comes amid PhilHealth's net loss amounting to P8.92 billion, according to its 2017 unaudited financial statement posted online. Based on PhilHealth's own numbers, this is 3,446.5% higher than the restated 2016 net loss of P251.5 million.
De la Serna defended her hotel stays, saying that PhilHealth does not have an apartment for its officials in Manila. Her hotel stays, she said, are backed by travel authority.
"Kung cap ang tatanungin, hindi ko talaga alam ang details (If you're going to ask about the cap of allowances, I really do not know the details). But all I know is that I am allowed to travel as long as I have a travel authority signed by the secretary of health.... PhilHealth doesn't have a service apartment so I have to be billeted in a hotel," De la Serna said.
She added that she began renting her own place in Manila starting April. – Rappler.com