Misleading: COA 'orders Hontiveros' to return illegal PhilHealth bonuses

A screenshot of a blog post that claims that the Commission on Audit ordered Senator Risa Hontiveros to return the illegal bonuses that were given to PhilHealth employees.

A screenshot of a blog post that claims that the Commission on Audit ordered Senator Risa Hontiveros to return the illegal bonuses that were given to PhilHealth employees.

Claim: A post on the blog phnewspride.blogspot.com dated August 4 claimed that the Commission on Audit (COA) ordered Senator Risa Hontiveros and 3 other former officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to return P163.85 million in bonuses.

The COA “affirmed the disallowance” of P80.79 million in PhilHealth Christmas, performance, and anniversary bonuses in 2009 and 2010, and P83.06 million in educational assistance and birthday gift benefits in 2014.

The post said that this is the 3rd time that Hontiveros has received an order from the COA since she became a senator in 2016. It also alleged that she used P1.7 million of illegal funds to finance her 2016 campaign.

The other former PhilHealth board members who were mentioned in the post were Paulia Panopio, Glenn Cutanda, and Arturo Palomino.

Rating: MIXED

Facts: COA did not order Hontiveros to return P163.85 million in PhilHealth bonuses.

Hontiveros was part of the PhilHealth board of directors from November 2014 to October 2015. She quit to file her certificate of candidacy for the senatorial elections in 2016.

Rappler, GMA News, and Inquirer.net all reported on August 3 that the COA affirmed its earlier decision to disallow the P163.86 million in bonuses that PhilHealth granted their employees in 2009, 2010, and 2014. (READ: COA to PhilHealth: Return P164-M illegal perks)

These notices of disallowance were issued in 2011 for a total of P80.798 million in incentives:

Two other notices of disallowance were issued in 2015 for a total of P83.062 million:

The COA said then that only the PhilHealth board and its certifying members will be held liable for the total P80.79 million in incentives, Christmas bonuses, and anniversary gifts that the board approved in 2011.

PhilHealth’s good faith defense in the case of the P83.062 million in education assistance and birthday cash gifts given in 2015 does not hold, according to the COA, because there are existing rules prohibiting those.

The COA reports did not name any PhilHealth board member as being responsible for the illegal benefits and allowances, or for previous orders to PhilHealth regarding the illegal perks.

Hontiveros became a member of the PhilHealth board from November 2014 to October 2015, after the illegal allowances were released.

The blog post claims she used P1.7 million in illegal funds to finance her 2016 campaign but does not present proof of it.

Panopio, Cutanda, and Palomino were not listed as PhilHealth directors included in the COA’s Reports on Salaries and Allowances in 2009, 2010, or 2014.

Phnewspride.blogspot.com is the same blog that posted about the Jet Li death hoax and the "unpaid SONA protesters" hoax that Rappler previously debunked. – Vernise L Tantuco/Rappler.com