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Return P139.5M in allowances, PhilHealth told

07:24 AM July 01, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — There seems to be no end to irregularities at Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Already under justice department investigation for fraud and graft, PhilHealth has been ordered by the state auditor to return P139.5 million in allowances and bonuses it illegally paid to its officials and employees in 2012.

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The Commission on Audit (COA) issued two separate rulings in May on petitions for review of notices of disallowance that it earlier issued for PhilHealth.

The state auditor released the rulings only on Wednesday last week.

Not health workers

In the first resolution, dated May 23, the COA affirmed the disallowance of P91.16 million in laundry, subsistence and hazard pay that PhilHealth paid to officials and employees at its central office in 2012.

In the second ruling, dated May 24, the COA also affirmed the disallowance of P48.32 million in what it called irregular allowances representing various benefits that PhilHealth paid to its regular and nonregular employees in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region in 2012.

The COA, in the first ruling, denied the motion for reconsideration filed in April 2016 by then PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Alexander Padilla that sought nullification of two notices of disallowance issued to the national health insurer in May 2013.

In denying Padilla’s motion, the COA declared that the payment of allowances, including subsistence and laundry allowances, and hazard pay by PhilHealth to its officials and employees at its central office in 2012 was illegal.

It said PhilHealth workers were not entitled to subsistence and laundry allowances nor hazard pay because these were benefits reserved for health-sector workers under Republic Act No. 7305, the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.

Under the charter, public health workers are doctors and nurses who deliver actual health services in government-run hospitals and clinics.

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“[PhilHealth] personnel who are not directly involved in rendering health or health-related services cannot be considered health workers and be entitled to hazard pay,” the COA said, adding that PhilHealth is a government corporation established to provide health insurance, not health services.

Benefits invalid

In the second ruling, the COA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the PhilHealth Mimaropa office that sought nullification of the disallowance of P48.32 million in shuttle, subsistence, laundry and grocery allowances, hazard pay, birthday gift and educational assistance it paid to its workers in the region in 2012.

“Upon careful examination of the benefits and allowances, it is evident that the same are invalid,” the COA said.

PhilHealth spokesperson Shirley Domingo did not return the Inquirer’s calls for comment on Sunday. —Patricia Denise M. Chiu

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TAGS: COA, Commission On Audit, Illegal Allowances, illegal bonuses, Philhealth
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