Mayor’s secretary defends use of Champ funds for sonBy Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
FUNDS from the City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicines Program (Champ) were spent to pay for the medical bills of the son of Mayor Michael Rama’s secretary who got confined in a private hospital in April 2011.
Belinda Navasquez said she signed the letter of authority for the release of medical aid to her son Jose Noel Navasquez, who was confined at the Chong Hua Hospital after incurring complications due to a severe asthma attack.
The amount was appropriated from the city’s share of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds, one of the funding sources for the city’s Champ program.
Cebu City’s Champ caters to indigent city residents in need of medical assistance.
Navasquez confirmed that she facilitated the Champ allocation for her son, who had been working at the City Administrator’s Office.
But she said no special treatment was extended to her son because the Champ coverage also applies to City Hall personnel.
Mayor Rama could not be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.
“Mas daku pa gani to ang na avail sa uban (There were those who availed of much more),” she said in a phone interview.
Champ medical coverage would normally amount to P20,000 to P25,000.
But there were instances when the city government gave more depending on the patient’s needs.
“Discretion na namo kung pila ang ihatag kay gi hatagan man mi ug authority sa mayor nga mo decide (It’s our discretion how much would be given since we were given authority by the mayor to decide),” Navasquez said.
She said Rama authorized her, Champ chief Henry Sanchez and City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete to sign Champ authorization letters that are presented to the hospitals.
A Champ authorization letter is a commitment on the city government’s part to allocate a certain amount for a program beneficiary admitted to a hospital.
“Its like payment from the city to the hospital. There’s no money that passes to a person since it’s paid directly to the hospital,” Navasquez said.
Belinda said she understands that the issue raised against her on the Champ coverage of her son was politically motivated.
She said she’s unafraid to face her accusers because her conscience is clear.
“I did it in good faith because I helped my son. There was no malice and I texted the mayor who was then outside of the country that I needed help. The mayor approved it. I didn’t steal anything,” Belinda said.