Dela Serna only fired as PhilHealth OIC, but not as board member - Palace
Malacanang clarified on Tuesday that Philippine Health Insurance Corp. head Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna was only fired as head of the agency.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters in a text message that Dela Serna remains as member of the PhilHealth board of directors.
"Yes she is," he said when asked if Dela Serna, who was questioned by the Commission on Audit for her excessive travel expenses, was only dismissed as officer-in-charge of PhilHealth.
Further pressed why Dela Serna was retained as member of the board considering the corruption allegation against her, Roque said, "Please ask ES (Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea)."
Dela Serna still attended the PhilHealth board meeting on Tuesday and swore in as PhilHealth acting president and chief executive officer Roy B. Ferrer.
Prior to his text messages to reporters, in a press briefing in South Korea where President Rodrigo Duterte was in an official visit earlier in the day, Roque cited the reasons why the President fired Dela Serna.
"Well she was fired, number one, because as you know the President would want to implement universal healthcare, free medicine for all...we need a completely honest PhilHealth (head) if we're going to have a successful universal health care," he said, citing that he was one of the authors of the law when he was still in the House of Representatives.
He said that Dela Serna was removed because of her excessive travel expenses, lavish lifestyle, such as her stay in hotels.
Roque said PhilHealth also lost P8 billion under her watch.
"That's not acceptable because it is important to ensure the economic viability of PhilHealth, if it's not economically viable, there will be no realization of free medicine that President Duterte wants.
COA has questioned Dela Serna's P627,000 travel expenses to and from Tagbilaran and Manila since she became the PhilHealth officer-in-charge in April 2017.
Her expenses include plane fares, terminal fees, and hotel/lodging accommodations, according to COA.
COA also flagged Dela Serna's excessive allowances.
Duterte has promised to remove government officials only with a "whiff of corruption." Celerina Monte/DMS