THE National Association of Lawyers for Justice and Peace again challenged senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros to prove that the state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp., of which she was a director, did not spend public funds for her campaign.
NALJP founding chairman Jesus Santos described as “incredible” Hontiveros’ claim that private parties paid for the commercials of PhilHealth which has been accused of given baseless and unauthorized bonuses to its officials despite notices of disallowance from the Commission on Audit.
“The funny thing is the commercials of Miss Hontiveros started before she was named a senatorial bet of the administration. So why did it have to be her? Surely, PhilHealth has other equally talented personnel who could have done what Miss Hontiveros did,” Santos said.
Santos pointed out that it was not Hontiveros’ job as a board member to appear as image model in PhilHealth commercials on the activities of the agency.
“Were Miss Hontiveros’ commercials legal or duly authorized? And how much are we talking about,” Santos asked.
Hontiveros, who was named PhilHealth director in 2015, had earlier said she was asked by the health insurance agency to endorse its programs and the infomercials were just part of PhilHealth’s information dissemination campaign.
At the same time, she said no public funds were used for the infomercials because “friends in the private sector, who believe in me and PhilHealth’s programs, defrayed all costs in the making of the said infomercial.”
But Santos challenged Hontiveros to reveal who paid for the commercials and urged her to also explain her position on the bonuses that PhilHealth gave its executives despite a CoA disallowance.
“Miss Hontiveros is silent up to now about the unauthorized bonuses,” Santos said. “The people have the right to know how she handled the issue. Did she opposed it, how? Did she return what she received?”
According to the CoA, PhilHealth gave various unauthorized incentives to its officers and workers in 2013, including subsistence and laundry allowances totaling P53.131 million; productivity incentive allowances and bonuses of P302.954 million and hazard pay of P96.157 million.
Other incentives include anniversary bonus totaling P33.809 million; rice benefits of P106.069 million; educational allowances amounting to P279.045 million; a Christmas package of P242.037 million and shuttle service assistance of P132.8 million, the COA data showed.
Also granted were Labor Management Relation Gratuity pays totaling P155.252 million; birthday gifts of P38.306 million; medical and mission critical allowances of P21.823 million; corporate transition and achievement premium and/or grocery allowances of P118.241 million, and a handful of other financial benefits.
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