Pag-IBIG wants COA to reconsider return of P37M

By Zinnia dela Pena, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 16 2014 02:33 AM | Updated as of Jan 16 2014 10:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) will ask the Commission on Audit (COA) to reconsider its directive requiring the state-run housing agency to return P37.636 million to the government.

Pag-IBIG Fund president and CEO Darlene Berberabe said the money was used to provide separation benefits to 20 employees who retired from the agency in 2012.

Berberabe said this was different from what the employees received from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

“In the COA exit conferences, we have been closely discussing this issue, and our position is that the payment should not be disallowed because what the concerned employees received from the Fund are not retirement but separation benefits, while what they received from the GSIS are retirement insurance benefits for which they paid monthly premiums.

“Besides, when these employees received their separation benefits from the Fund, they have not yet received their retirement claims from the GSIS so there was no double retirement payment,” Berberabe explained.

The COA basis in disallowing the payment of separation pay to these employees under the Fund’s early retirement program is the supposed double payment of retirement pay because the GSIS also paid out retirement benefits to them after their separation from Pag-IBIG.

The Pag-IBIG Fund tossed the blame on the GSIS, saying it is the latter’s “responsibility to determine whether the employees concerned are entitled to GSIS benefits after they received their separation benefits from the Fund since it is the administrator of the GSIS retirement fund.”

The Pag-IBIG Fund is one of the 31 state-run corporations that have been ordered to return P2.3-billion in supposedly unauthorized bonuses and allowances received by their officials and employees in 2012.

The Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporation (GCG) had required all government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) in their 2013 performance agreements to “submit concrete and time-bound action plans to address COA’s observations.”

A final response and evaluation by the GCG will also be made in a few days.

The GCG, however, stressed that “the amounts in the report cover various items that were already being granted without legal basis prior to the Aquino administration.”