Lawmakers welcome removal of PhilHealth chief

MANILA Some lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Monday welcomed the removal of Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna as interim president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) amid allegations of excessive travels.

CIBAC partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna said dela Serna's removal is a welcome development in the corruption scandal hounding PhilHealth, stressing that the lead agency in providing quality healthcare assistance to Filipinos must be rid of corrupt officials.

"Dapat naman talaga sibakin kung totoo na mayroong mismanagement sa paggamit ng compulsory collection ng PhilHealth, (If there is indeed a mismanagement of PhilHealth's compulsory collection fund, then [dela Serna] should really be fired)," Tugna said.

Tugna said there is a need to investigate the purported corruption and misuse of funds to make other PhilHealth officials accountable for these anomalies.

Senior Citizen partylist Rep. Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay, meanwhile, urged the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit of the PhilHealth to uncover all the anomalous policies and transactions the agency has done since 2015 until the present, including the "disenfranchisement" of seniors from PhilHealth coverage.

"The PhilHealth now has the opportunity to right the wrongs in recent years, especially those adversely done against senior citizens," Aquino-Magsaysay said.

For his part, Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said dela Serna should not have been appointed in the first place as she lacks the qualifications to head PhilHealth.

The COA has reportedly raised the red flag on dela Serna's PHP627,000 travel expenses to and from Tagbilaran, Bohol and Manila as well as her per diem for meeting through video conference amounting to PHP152,000 and summary allowances received despite Notices of Disallowance worth PHP143,881.17.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the appointment of Roy Ferrer as acting president and chief executive officer of PhilHealth.

Ferrer, a native of Davao, was a member of the Board of Directors of PhilHealth. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency