THE lawyer of a Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) employee suspended over 28 missing Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) checks worth P240,000 said the penalty imposed on her client was “unfair.”

Lawyer Gloria Lasti-mosa-Dalawampu, counsel for Maria Lourdes Archua, CCMC billing officer, also hinted they may file a damage suit against Mayor Michael Rama and other people who may be found liable for wrongfully suspending her client.

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Dalawampu also turned the tables on CCMC Chief Myrna Go, saying the hospital chief washed her hands of the issue when she directed only Archua to submit her letter-explanation.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is willing to face any complaint, saying it is part of the hazards of his job as mayor.

Rama said it is Archua's right to file a case, and he will just face the complaint if it is filed.

City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez recommended a 30-day preventive suspension of Archua, saying there existed a prima facie administrative case for gross neglect of duty, which resulted in the loss of 28 Philhealth checks issued to the city hospital.

Rama signed the formal charge and suspension order dated July 20, 2010 and this was served on Archua on the same day.

“We cannot stop anyone from pursuing anything. I'm only banking on what ought to be and that is providing the avenues which even included the city attorney getting into the picture and guiding the Office of the Mayor. And the mayor signed because he believes that what was being suggested subscribes to what ought to be,” he said.

In his news conference yesterday, Rama said, though, he would not file counter-charges.

“Wala tay mahimo anang manukol. It's part of the hazards of (serving in) the government,” the mayor added.

The issue began after Concha Ruth Adlawan, who posed as a Philhealth trainee, claimed the checks from Archua.

Adlawan allegedly used an authorization letter from Go to claim the checks from Archua.

However, Go denied she authorized Adlawan to claim 28 Philhealth checks from CCMC.

She said her signatures in the authorization letter and the Philhealth checks were forged.

Nine of the 28 Philhealth checks were already sent by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 to its central office’s Questioned Documents Examination Department to authenticate the signatures.

Archua, accompanied by Dalawampu, appeared before the NBI 7 yesterday.

NBI 7 Supervising Agent Rennan Augustus Oliva asked Archua several questions regarding the transaction, said Dalawampu.

Dalawampu said Archua was summoned by the NBI 7 not as a respondent but as a resource person “to shed light on the issues.”

Dalawampu said Archua has no command responsibility over Mary Grace Lopez, the City Treasurer’s Office utility worker detailed at CCMC to handle Philhealth transactions.

“She was made to believe by Go that she (Archua) has command responsibility (over Lopez) when she does not,” Dalawampu told reporters.

Dalawampu said Go should have also directed Lopez to submit her letter-explanation because the latter knows Lopez is the one in charge of the release of Philhealth checks. (GMD/LCR)