MANILA, Philippines – Despite government auditors' findings that she spent excessively and unnecessarily on hotel stays and travel, Celestina de la Serna gets to keep her seat in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) board of directors.
"Yes, she is [still part of the board]," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque in response to reporters' queries on Tuesday, June 5.
De la Serna remains in the board after Duterte fired her from her post as PhilHealth interim president and chief executive officer. He replaced her with Roy Ferrer.
To the question on why De la Serna is still a board member despite the allegations against her, Roque told reporters to "ask ES (Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea)."
Medialdea is yet to respond to Rappler.
Earlier that day, Roque confirmed that De la Serna had been investigated by a senior Malacañang official and that it was this official who recommended to Duterte that she be fired.
The spokesman said De la Serna was axed because of the complaints on her excessive expenses and the massive net income loss of PhilHealth amounting to P8.92 billion during her leadership.
"The complaints against her – excess travel, extravagant lifestyle, her hotel stays paid for by the people, and the loss of PhilHealth under her watch, P8 billion – are not acceptable," said Roque in Filipino.
Duterte has a record of firing allegedly corrupt or abusive government officials yet keeping them in government. In a tally kept by Rappler, 16 such government officials are yet to face formal corruption charges while two have been reappointed. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.