STARTING this month, employees from the Cebu City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) will personally collect all Philhealth checks payable to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) to avoid any further loss of checks.

City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva requested the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Inc. (Philhealth) to make all checks payable to the Cebu City Government, instead of CCMC.

But because Philhealth had entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which stated that the payee of all checks will be the hospitals of the different local government units (LGUs), Oliva said her request cannot be granted immediately.

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“I made the request for purposes of check and balance but since there is that agreement, Philhealth Cebu will have to send the request to their Manila office for decision by the higher officials of the agency. In the meantime, they allowed me to send our own personnel to their office to collect the checks,” Oliva said.

At present, the payee of all checks for the refund of the patients’ hospital bills is CCMC, while the payee for the professional fees of doctors is the chief of hospital.

The checks are paid by Philhealth to the CCMC business and finance department, and are later turned over to the CTO by its personnel detailed in CCMC.

Oliva wrote a request to the Philhealth Cebu office after CCMC’s business and finance department lost 28 checks to alleged swindlers last May.

The swindlers posed as Philhealth employees who claimed that the checks had to be returned to their office for stamping of the Philhealth seal, which they claimed is a requirement before banks honor the checks.

Some of the checks ended up with two individuals who are in the check rediscounting business, but these were not encashed by the banks.

An administrative case has also been filed against CCMC business and finance department head Lourdes Archua for gross neglect of duty, in relation to the loss of the checks.

“So we can avoid similar incidents in the future, all payments to CCMC will be channeled through the treasury office. This is also part of our efforts to streamline the different processes of collection and disbursement of payment in the city hospital,” Oliva told Sun.Star Cebu.

Oliva, City Budget Officer Nelfa Briones and City Accountant Arlene Rentuza have been tasked by the mayor to oversee the operations of CCMC’s business and finance department and monitor its transactions.

The treasurers said earlier they want to minimize the deficit of the hospital and to make it a self-sustaining facility. For now, it relies on a subsidy from the City’s coffers.