Supreme Court orders PEZA to refund illegally disbursed allowances
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court ordered the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Board to refund to the government the allowances they received in 2006 because it was illegally disbursed.
In a decision dated July 3, 2012, which was released to the media early Tuesday (July 10), the high court, through Associate Justice Martin Villarama dismissed the appeal filed by PEZA that sought the reversal of the 2009 ruling of the Commission on Audit.
The CoA, in its September 2009 decision ordered the PEZA ex officio Board members to refund P5,451,500 worth of per diems they received in 2006.
CoA explained that there is already a Supreme Court (Bitonio v. CoA) ruling disallowing the giving of benefits to members of the Cabinet sitting in another post.
PEZA ex officio Board members include Undersecretaries of the Department of Finance, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology and Department of Energy.
Under the Bitonio case, the high court ruled that the Constitution prohibits Cabinet Secretaries, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries from holding other government positions and receive benefits from it.
But PEZA argued that the Bitonio case is not yet final and the officials who received the per diems received it in good faith thus they should not be ordered to refund it.
“Good faith is ordinarily used to describe that state of mind denoting honesty of intention and freedom from knowledge of circumstances, which ought to put the holder upon inquiry, an honest intention to abstain from taking any unconscientious advantage of another, even through technicalities of law, together with absence of all information, notice or benefit or belief of facts which render transaction unconscientious,” the high court said in its recent ruling.
It pointed that PEZA, knowing of the pending Bitonio case and the possibility that it will be affirmed should have withheld the giving of per diems to its Board.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.