MANILA MalacaAang on Monday said that it will be conducting its own probe into the weekly travels and hotel stays of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) officer-in-charge Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna, which reportedly cost more than PHP600,000.
Commission on Audit (COA) reports showed that dela Serna spent PHP627,000 for travels and hotels in 2017 despite the agency incurring a net loss of PHP8.92 billion.
Well, alam ko po iimbestigahan din po iyan ng Presidente 'no (I know that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will also look into that), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Roque pointed out that it was really Duterte's priority to cleanse the ranks of PhilHealth since universal healthcare cannot be carried out under a corrupt agency.
Prayoridad po talaga ng Presidente na magbigay nung universal health care at talagang kung hindi po malilinis ang hanay ng PhilHealth, hindi po magkakatuparan itong universal health care (It's really the priority of the President to give universal health care and if PhilHealth is not cleansed, this dream of achieving universal health care cannot be achieved), Roque said.
Ito lang po ang maipapangako ko po: Talagang bibigyan po ng importansiya paglilinis sa hanay ng PhilHealth (This is what I can promise: We will give importance to cleansing the ranks of PhilHealth), he added.
Last week, Roque said that questionable trips should be investigated not just by the Office of the President but by other government agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman.
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 said in an earlier Palace briefing.
PhilHealth Spokesperson Israel Francis Pargas earlier defended dela Serna's expenses, noting that they were allowed by the PhilHealth board and were supported by documents.
They are aboveboard because we believe we have legal bases and we shall respond to the audit observation, Pargas said.
The President has repeatedly said that he would not hesitate to fire any government official, even his closest friends, if they are involved in even a whiff of corruption.
At present, the Palace is also conducting its own probe into the controversial PHP60 million advertisement deal between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and state-run PTV 4. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency