Ombudsman probe on COA report on Philhealth officials’ trips sought

MANILA MalacaAang said Thursday the Commission on Audit (COA) findings that were red-flagged should be looked into, not just by the Office of the President but by other government agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman, as well.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement, as media asked if MalacaAang would investigate COA's report questioning Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) officer-in-charge Celestina Ma. Jude Dela Serna's weekly travels and hotel stays costing over PHP600,000.

If there is really a violation of the anti-graft law, the constitutional body that should investigate, even motu proprio, should be the Ombudsman, Roque explained.

He said Congress has also been furnished with all the COA reports.

So I'm hoping that because the Ombudsman has been furnished a copy of all these reports, they will act on these reports, Roque said.

Roque said he would ask the Office of the President on the status of the PhilHealth Employees Association's letter detailing anomalies in PhilHealth.

According to COA reports, Dela Serna spent Php627,000 for travels and hotels in 2017, when PhilHealth incurred a net loss of PHP8.92 billion.

Roque appealed to the media to give the Office of the President enough time to look into the COA reports, including another COA report raising the flag on an advertisement deal between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and government-owned PTV4 for lack of supporting documents.

According to COA, the DOT under Secretary Wanda Teo last year paid PHP60 million for advertisements aired over PTV 4's show Kilos Pronto, which is produced and hosted by Teo's brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo.

Teo has denied she had a hand in the advertisement deal.

Roque has also been asked for an update on COA's report questioning the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO)'s PHP4- million expense for 10 consultants and 20 contractual workers in 2017.

So, in fact, unfortunately, we are not Ombudsman, these should be asked to the Ombudsman, Roque said. The Ombudsman has to investigate and has to do its own case buildup." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency