Ombudsman orders suspension of PhilHealth execs for non-COVID cases

Published August 19, 2020, 1:56 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

As the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is being wracked by corruption claims in the middle of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis, the Office of the Ombudsman served two suspension orders against 13 of its officials involved in different cases.

In the first suspension order signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on August 18, officials were placed under preventive suspension for six months without pay “in consonance with Section 9 of Administrative Order No. 17, amending Rule III of Administrative Order No. 07 (Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman) and Section 24 of R.A. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989).”

They are former acting President Roy B. Ferrer, who was appointed as an Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) earlier this February; former interim president Celestina Ma. Jude Dela Serna; Chief Operating Officer Ruben John Basa; Management Services Sector Senior Vice President (SVP) Dennis Mas; Vice President for Corporate Affairs Group Shirley Domingo; Office of the Senior Vice President, Legal Sector SVP Rodolfo Del Rosario Jr.;

Chief of Staff Raul Dominic Badilla; Health Finance Policy Sector SVP Israel Pargas; Angelito Grande; Lawrence Mijares; and Acting Senior Manager of the Operations Audit Department Leila Tuazon.

The next suspension order included Ferrer, Basa, Quality Assurance Group Vice President Clementine Bautista, Grande, and Field Operations Division Chief Engr. Eugenio Donatos II.

The order stated that “the evidence on record shows that the guilt of respondents is strong and the charges against them involve Grave Misconduct, Oppression, and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service which may warrant removal from the service.”

Since their continued stay in office might prejudice the case filed against them, the Ombudsman ordered their preventive suspension.

“The Honorable B/Gen. Ricardo C. Morales, AFP (Ret.), President and Chief Executive Officer of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and/or the Honorable Francisco T. Duque III, Secretary, Department of Health and PhilHealth Board ex-officio Chairperson, are hereby furnished a copy of this Order for its implementation, with the request to submit to this Office proof of compliance thereof,” the first order read.

The second order was similarly worded but included only Morales with “the request to inform this Office within three days from receipt hereof of the action taken.”