COA to Philhealth regional officials: Return P34-M illegal bonuses

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) in Metro Manila and in Region 12 (Soccsksargen region) to return over P34 million in Illegal bonuses they received in 2009 and 2012.

In separate decisions both dated June 11, COA denied the petitions for review filed by Philhealth-National Capital Region and Philhealth-Region 12 seeking the lifting of notices of disallowance against their grant of productivity incentives bonuses (PIB).

Philhealth-NCR released P22.447 million in bonuses in 2009 which COA disallowed in 2011, citing lack of legal basis. 

PhilHealth-Region 12 granted  P11.587 million in PIB  in 2012 and was issued notices of disallowance in 2014, for the same reason.

The regional offices appealed this but COA-Corporate Government Sector Cluster 6 thumbed down their separate appeals in 2017.

COA said by the time the regional offices filed their appeals, the notices of disallowance had already become final and executory.

“In the interest of equity and justice, this Commission allows a liberal interpretation of the rules, so long as the petitioner is able to prove the existence of cogent reasons. In this case, there exists no justifiable reason to relax the rules on filing an appeal,” the COA said.

But it also said that even if the appeals were filed on time, COA would still deny them.

“Even if the Petitions for Review is to be decided on the merits, it will still be denied because the payment of PIB…lacked the requisite prior approval from the Office of the President,” COA said.

Including the latest decisions released to the public, COA had affirmed the disallowance of a total of P193.58 million in Philhealth cash perks.

In August 2018, COA affirmed its decision that PhilHealth gave nearly P164 million in unauthorized perks to officials and personel in 2009, 2010, and 2014. – Rappler.com