Council probes P .5M Champ coverage to Rama aidesBy Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
City Councilors want the office of the mayor to clarify guidelines in releasing to beneficiaries the City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicines Program.
This inquiry came after reports came out that more than half million funds from the health assistance fund were released for the hospitalization expenses of the son of mayor Michael Rama’s secretary and the son of his chief of staff.
Councilors Margot Osmeña and Ronald Cuenco wanted to be clarified of the executive department’s basis in granting medical aid that would be more than the P25,000 cap allowed under the City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicines Program (Champ).
In response, Rama said he exercises his “discretion on case-to-case basis” the size of assistance Champ beneficiaries can get.
Rama defended the Champ coverage for Jose Noel Navasquez, a City Hall employee and son of the mayor’s secretary Belinda Navasquez and for the toddler son of his chief of staff Philip Zafra.
Navasquez’s Champ coverage amounted to P145,000 for while medical charges for Zafra’s son who suffered head injuries after a bed fall reached about P400,000. Both were confined in the posh Chong Hua Hospital.
City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete said the city government allocated P100 million for its 2012 the health assistance program. The city’s allocation from the PCSO form part of the Champ fund.
Poblete however could not give the exact figures on how much PCSO gives to the program and how much of the P100 million Champ budget has remained unspent to date.
The mayor admitted that he authorized the release of CHAMP assistance to Navasquez and Zafra.
Rama however is unfazed by the inquiry. He said he decided to release a bigger amount to Zafra’s son because of pity for the child. Rama said that he would always feel like this to children.
He nonetheless instructed Poblete to check on the council’s query.
But he said that there is nothing wrong with making his office staffs or any other city hall personnel to avail of the program.
“If we can give assistance to outsiders, why can’t we give to insiders (in the City Hall),” Rama said.
“Even before, there were exemptions, this is not happening only now,” he added.
Champ beneficiaries are required to submit a sworn application, proof of residency. doctor’s prescription, medical certification (for medicines) or medical abstract (for hospitalization) and a certificate of eligibility issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Services.
Program applicants are also required to secure a Letter of Authorization issued by Champ supervisor Belinda Navasquez to program director Henry Sanchez.
According to City Hall website, Champ coverage includes laboratory, medicine, hospitalization/ billing and burial.