Ombudsman junks charges against 11 PhilHealth officials sued by employees

Published June 16, 2021, 11:46 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Office of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has dismissed the criminal and administrative charges filed by several employees against 11 officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in 2019.

Dismissed were the graft, grave misconduct, oppression, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service due to insufficiency of evidence and failure to prove that the 11 PhilHealth officials “acted with intent to cause a wrong.”

Cleared by the OMB were former PhilHealth Acting President Roy B. Ferrer, who was appointed as an assistant secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) in Feb. 2020; 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 I. Badilla; Health Finance Policy Sector SVP Israel Pargas; Angelito Grande; Lawrence M. Mijares; and Acting Senior Manager of the Operations Audit Department Leila Tuazon.

The complaints against them were filed by Miriam Grace G. Pamonag, Jelbert B. Galicto, Dennis B. Adre, William O. Chavez, Paolo Johann C. Perez, Khaliquzzman M. Macabato, and Valerie Anne H. Hollero. They claimed that the PhilHealth officials filed “baseless administrative cases” against them from Sept. 2017 until May 2019 for the purpose of oppressing and harassing them.

They said their preventive suspensions could have been simultaneously served instead of filing one formal charge after another in violation of Section 31 of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Rules.

Also, they alleged that there were “unwarranted reassignments” made without their consent and that they were publicly humiliated in the PhilHealth internal communication system to cast doubt on their integrity.

They pointed out they were subjected to oppression and harassment because they filed charges against several members of the PhilHealth Board of Directors (BOD) before the OMB and the House of Representatives Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability.

In dismissing the charges, the OMB said it “finds neither probable cause to indict respondents… nor substantial evidence to impose sanctions against them.”

The OMB said that mere allegation of conspiracy on the part of the respondents is not enough to indict them.

It pointed out that while it is true that the complainants faced successive preventive suspensions and reassignments, there was insufficient evidence that would show how the respondents intended to participate in any conspiracy to cause injustice to them.

“It must be pointed out that the overt acts of respondents — recommending the filing of administrative charges and the imposition of preventive suspension against complainants, acting as prosecutor in the administrative cases, among others — are part of their respective functions either in their capacity as officials of PhilHealth or by Board Resolutions directing them to perform such duties,” the OMB said.

“Thus, mere performance of the said acts, without more, should not be readily taken as proof of intention to participate in any conspiracy to commit a wrong against complainants,” it added.