SC upholds disallowances on PhilHealth execs’ additional perks

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has upheld with modification a Commission on Audit (CoA) ruling that rejected additional allowances, benefits, and cash gifts for officers of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) that totaled P5 million in 2013.

In a 28-page decision, the High Court modified the ruling allowing the payment of longevity remuneration after it ruled last year that the PhilHealth employees were public health workers entitled to the benefit.

Under Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, public health workers are entitled to a month’s longevity pay equivalent to 5% of their monthly basic salary.

The tribunal upheld the disallowance of the rest of the additional perks saying this lacked approval from the president.

“Thus, PhilHealth is bound by the provision of Presidential Decree No. 1597 which requires the approval of the President in granting allowance, honoraria, and other fringe benefits,” according to the ruling penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez.

Under the law, PhilHealth allowances and other fringe benefits are subject to the approval of the president upon the recommendation of the Budget secretary.

The high tribunal also ordered CoA to identify the PhilHealth officials responsible for the approval and the release of the benefits and allowances covered in the disallowances.

In a similar ruling last year, the court upheld CoAs disallowances for extra perks and allowances for PhilHealth officials worth P83.09 million in 2014.

“Viewed in this lens, this court finds that the CoA did not commit grave abuse of discretion in upholding the notices of disallowances,” it said.

“The said decision and resolution were based on prevailing law, rules and jurisprudence.John Victor D. Ordoñez