Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Interim president Celestina Dela Serna has been ordered to be investigated by President Rodrigo Duterte last month because of her alleged excessive travels.
One month, after this order, a lawmaker revealed that aside from travels, Dela Serna also lives in a hotel for a year that costs 3,800 per night or 1.3m annually.
The cheapest room in Legend Villas hotel. Photo: Legend Villas booking site
Representative Arnulfo Teves of Negros Oriental revealed that they had a chance to talk with the PhilHealth interim president and they were horrified after she revealed how she spent the government funds for a year.
Teves said that Dela Serna stayed at Legend Villas, a hotel where the cheapest room costs 3,800 per night.
“She admitted to staying in the hotel for one year or more… More or less one year sa hotel siya nakatira charged to Philhealth and she said she thought it was okay, that’s why she did it,” he said.
“Imagine you have a Philhealth president na ganoon?” the lawmaker added.
The Visayan lawmaker filed a house resolution that urging the Congress to conduct an investigation on the current situation of PhilHealth.
Commission on Audit flagged Dela Serna before for spending P627,000 for travels and hotels in 2017.
Last month, Dela Serna denied the allegations against her that she lives a lavish lifestyle during his leadership in Philhealth.
She also requested a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte to explain her side.
“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. Because as I said kanina (earlier), I only work within the 3 orders of the president,” she said in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, the agency led by Dela Cerna is facing financial problems and the reserve fund of PhilHealth is at risk of drying up by 2021.
Senator JV Ejercito said that he was worried that the Philhealth would be left with no funds if the government would not make an action to resolve it.
“I’m disturbed, I’m worried. Kung wala tayong gagawin there will be no PhilHealth funds to speak of in 2021,” Ejercito said.
“It is disturbing. Because of the steep decline, sa 2021 zero, wala na tayong pondo.” he added.
PhilHealth executive vice president and chief operating officer Ruben John Basa, also revealed that the P10.6-B fund for senior citizens has been transferred to the 2015 health facilities enhancement program of Department of Health (DOH).
“The matter was not presented nor approved by the Philhealth board of directors,” Basa said.
They said that because of this alleged diversion, Philhealth forcefully used their reserve fund to finance the coverage for senior citizens.
“With the approval of the Senior Citizens Act, we did not get that particular money so we have to use our reserve funds, so that started the bleeding,” said Dr. Anthony Leachon, representative of the Monetary Board in the PhilHealth Board.
Millions of Filipinos are contributing to PhilHealth to attain cheaper medical expenses.