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SC affirms ruling disallowing P15-M benefits to PhilHealth employees

The Supreme Court has affirmed a decision of the Commission on Audit (COA) disallowing the grant of allowances and incentives amounting to P15 million to employees of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

In a 19-page decision, the SC en banc denied a petition filed by PhilHealth seeking to issue a temporary restraining order against a decision of COA.

COA, in its decision, had affirmed the notices of disallowance on PhilHealth’s payment of transportation allowance, project completion incentive, and educational assistance worth P15 million to its regular and contractual employees.

“The COA correctly upheld the NDs in view of the lack of legal basis for the grant of transportation allowance, project completion incentive, and educational assistance allowance,” the Court said.

According to the Court, the fiscal autonomy of PhilHealth is not absolute and cannot be the basis for the granting of benefits.

“Consistent thereto, we reiterated that [PhilHealth’s] fiscal autonomy is not absolute and affirmed the NDs pertaining to the contractor’s gift, special event gifts, project completion incentive, nominal gift, and birthday gifts granted by [PhilHealth],” it said.

Further, the Court said that recipients of disallowed public benefits and allowances can no longer invoke good faith as their defense.

“Good faith is no longer a defense available to recipients, unlike approving officers. This Court views the receipt by the payees of disallowed benefits sa one by mistake, thus creating an obligation on their part to return the same,” the Court said.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, was promulgated on September 27, 2022 but released only recently.

GMA News Online reached out to PhilHealth acting vice president for corporate affairs Rey Baleña for comment but has yet to receive a reply as of posting time.

In December 2022, the SC also affirmed a ruling of COA that disallowed PhilHealth’s issuance of P83 million to its officials and employees in 2014.—AOL, GMA Integrated News