By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial and former PhilHealth interim President Celestina Dela Serna are facing complaints of graft, malversation, and falsification before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the reportedly anomalous travels made by Dela Serna.
The complaint was filed on June 5, and it includes three counts of violation of Section 3(a) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Articles 174 and 217 of the Revised Penal Code.
Because of Dela Serna’s position, her official station is in Metro Manila. Specifically, the office of the PhilHealth President is in the Citystate Centre, Pasig.
But on March 2018, Dela Serna still filed disbursement vouchers for reimbursements of her travels from Bohol to Manila and back, claiming that Bohol is her permanent official station. She also sought reimbursements for her accommodations in Metro Manila.
Disbursement Voucher No.18-03-186, which was her travels from June 13 to 24, 2017, was for P65,497.88. Disbursement Voucher No.18-03-187 was for her travel from July 17, 2017 to August 11, 2017 amounting to P83,323. And Disbursement Voucher No.18-03-188 was for her May 1 to 25, 2017 travel amounting to P119,348.72.
These vouchers were all signed by Ubial and she even “certified that the charges to budget are necessary, lawful and under direct supervision.” At the same time, the supporting documents were said to be “valid, proper and legal.”
The complainants believe otherwise, since she claimed to be on travel status “when in fact she was not on a travel status because her permanent official station is Metro Manila.”
“The use of false certificates is for the purpose of obtaining personal gain through reimbursement of her illegal claim for travel and hotel expenses,” the complaint read.
The complainants believe that had Dela Serna been truthful, she would not have been paid travel and hotel expenses.
At the same time, the Fund Management Sector (FMS) refused to process the disbursement vouchers given her official station in Metro Manila. The FMS even wrote her a letter about it dated March 19, 2018.
“Despite the clear policies, and the refusal of FMS to process and pay her disbursement voucher, Dela Serna coerced and directed the FMA to process and pay as reflected in her marginal note on the letter,” the complaint read.
She eventually got her way since the reimbursement was made by PhilHealth on April 2018.
Dela Serna has just been removed from her position this year due to irregularities found in PhilHealth expenditures. President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Dr. Roy Ferrer to serve as acting President of PhilHealth on June 1.