Dela Serna, Ubial face raps before Ombudsman

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2018 08:43 AM

MANILA - The worst may not be over for Celestina Ma. Jude Dela Serna.

The former PhilHealth interim president is being sued over alleged irregularities in her travel and accommodation expenses.

Three counts of malversation, falsification, and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman Tuesday afternoon.

Former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, who allegedly certified Dela Serna's expenses, was also named a respondent in the complaint. 

The complainants were Datu Masiding Alonto Jr., Atty. Jelbert Galicto, Anshari Mangondato, Ziur Ruiz, Atty. Ian Alfredo Magno, Maria Rhodella Monsanto, and Marlon Niño Arrabaca.

The complaints stemmed from three disbursement vouchers that Dela Serna filed for reimbursement of her travels to and from Bohol and Manila.

The reimbursement, which covers expenses from May 2017 to August 2017, amounts to P268,269.

In her travels, Dela Serna flew the same airline and stayed at the same hotel that costs P3,800 per night.

Dela Serna also submitted corporate personnel order, itinerary of travel, after travel report, certificate of travel completed, and certification. Ubial's name and signature, however, were redacted in some documents.

'OK to process, pay'

The complainants said "Dela Serna instructed the Fund Management Sector (FMS) the payment of her own disbursement vouchers."

An annotation "OK to process and pay" was written on the first page of the memorandum, the group noted.

This, despite a letter from Juvy Balolong of FMS that the disbursement vouchers cannot be processed.

The letter, dated March 19, 2018, read that Dela Serna cannot claim for hotel accommodation and travel expenses since she holds office in Metro Manila as interim president.

It is also not consistent with Republic Act (RA) 10606 or the National Health Insurance Act of 2013 and other laws governing public funds, the letter added.

Graft, malversation

Despite the apparent and express illegality, the complainants said Dela Serna violated Section 3 (a) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Section 3 (a) states that persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.

For "causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government", the complainants said Dela Serna also violated Section 3 (e) of RA 3019.

Ubial, meanwhile, was accused of committing violations of RA 3019 for "supporting, signing, certifying, and approving a false claim."

Criminal complaints for malversation, using false certificate, and falsification of public documents were also filed against Dela Serna and Ubial.

"By illegally taking public funds, thru the exercise of her power and ascendancy, Dr. De la Serna committed the crime of malversation," the complaints read.

Adding, "Ubial committed malversation or malversation by negligence because she allowed and supported the release of funds to pay for the illegal claims of Dr. De la Serna."

By using false certification and misrepresenting in other documents when in fact she was not on a travel status because her permanent official station is Metro Manila, Dela Serna's act constituted falsification of public documents, the group said.

Ubial committed the same offense for signing and approving Dela Serna's falsified documents.

Following reports of alleged anomalies in PhilHealth, Dela Serna has been removed from her post, but will remain in the agency’s board.

Meanwhile, Ubial was rejected by the Commission on Appointments in October as head of the Department of Health (DOH).