COA orders PhilHealth to return P139-M benefits for execs, employees

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2019 03:13 PM

A man stands at the Philhealth local office at Mother Ignacia Street. Quezon City, June 7, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Audit proper has affirmed the notices of disallowance for P139.472 million in benefits and allowances given by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to its officials and employees.

The amount includes P91.156 million in hazard pay and subsistence and laundry allowances in 2012 that the PhilHealth management defended as “legal, equitable and justified.” 

PhilHealth personnel are deemed public health workers and thus entitled to receive hazard pay, contrary to the decision of auditors that employees are not public health workers, said the state-run corporation's president, Alexander Padilla. 

The COA proper, however, said the subsistence and laundry allowances cannot be granted as PhilHealth does not have fiscal autonomy. 

“Finally, the officials who authorized/approved/certified the grant or payments and the recipient-employees cannot be deemed in good faith, considering that disallowance of the same benefits had been previously issued against PHIC,” the COA proper said in its decision dated May 23, 2019. 
 
In a separate decision, the COA proper also ordered the return to the government of 2 tranches of allowances worth P23.347 million and P24.969 million that were given to officials and employees of PhilHealth-Mimaropa in 2015. 

“Clearly the approving officers and each regular and non-regular employee who received the disallowed allowances and benefits are obligated, jointly and severally, to refund the amount so received,” the COA proper said in a decision dated May 24, 2019. 

The decision also directed the COA legal services sector of COA to forward the case to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate charges against the officers and members of the PhilHealth board, “if warranted.” 

The May 23 and 24 decisions were both signed by COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc.