The Commission on Audit has affirmed notices of disallowances issued against two regional offices of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s two regional offices and agency officials to refund illegal bonuses worth P34 million.
In two separate decisions, COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc denied 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 incentive bonuses.
PhilHealth-NCR paid out P22.447 million in P1 billion in 2009 which was disallowed in audit in 2011 for lack of legal basis.
PhilHealth-Region 12 granted the same cash stipend in 2012 and was issued notices of disallowance in 2014.
They filed their own appeal, but the COA-Corporate Government Sector Cluster 6 rejected it in 2017.
According to the Commission Proper, by the time the petitions for review were filed, the PhilHealth regional offices had already exhausted the reglementary period of 180 days for a full appeal, hence the notices of disallowance 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 order read.
“At any rate, even if the petitions for review is to be decided on the merits, it will still be denied because the payment of productivity reglamentary bonuses... lacked the requisite prior approval from the Office of the President,” it said.
State auditors previously issued three decisions this year all affirming disallowances on the grant of different bonuses and allowances against PhilHealth.
Including the recent decisions, the commission affirmed disallowances on PhilHealth cash perks of P193.58 million.