THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has affirmed a ruling by state auditors that disallowed additional allowances given to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) employees worth P15.29 million for the years 2009 and 2010.
In a 19-page decision made public on Feb. 23, the tribunal upheld the Commission on Audit’s (CoA) decision that said transportation and educational assistance allowances, and project completion incentives were released without legal basis and exceeded PhilHealth’s budget for those years.
The court added that the Philhealth officers who approved the additional benefits and the recipients are liable to refund the disallowed amounts.
“This court views the receipt by the payees of disallowed benefits as one by mistake, thus creating an obligation on their part to return the same,” Associate Justice Rodil V. Zalameda said in the ruling.
The transportation allowances released amounted to P220,736.19, project completion incentives for contractual employees were worth P298,356.08, and the educational assistance allowances totaled P14.17 million.
The tribunal noted that the employees were not entitled to the incentives since they were job-order workers.
Under the Civil Service Commission’s rules, contractual employees do not enjoy the benefits entitled to regular government employees.
The court said its ruling was consistent with previous rulings on similar disallowed benefits that involved PhilHealth employees.
“In the said cases, we consistently found the authorizing officers solidarily liable for their gross negligence in granting the benefits and allowances based solely on PhilHealth’s alleged fiscal autonomy,” it said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez