THE SUPREME Court (SC) has affirmed a Commission on Audit (CoA) ruling that disallowed additional allowances and cash gifts approved by officers of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) totaling P83.06 million in 2014.
In a 21-page decision dated Sept. 27 and made public on Dec. 9, the tribunal upheld CoA’s decision that educational assistance and birthday gifts distributed to PhilHealth employees lacked legal basis and approval from the president.
“There appears to be no connection between the grant of the educational assistance allowance and birthday gifts and Philhealth’s institutional productivity/performance,” Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting said in the ruling.
Under the law, allowances and other fringe benefits are subject to the approval of the president upon the recommendation of the Budget secretary.
CoA earlier found that the officers that approved the additional allowances were liable for the disallowed amounts. The audit agency ordered the employees that received the extra pay to return the amounts to prevent “unjust enrichment against the government.”
PhilHealth argued that it has supposed fiscal autonomy to adjust the compensation of its personnel and to grant allowances.
“However, it is already settled that PhilHealth does not have absolute discretion in determining the compensation of its officials,” the tribunal said, citing 2016 jurisprudence. — John Victor D. Ordoñez