OFFICIALS of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have to refund the P3.47 million paid out by the agency under its 2013 Health Care Maintenance Program (HCMP) that was disallowed on audit.
In a four-page decision, COA Chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc affirmed as “final and executory” the notice of disallowance issued in 2014 against BFAR.
The ruling denied the petition for review filed by BFAR officials seeking lifting of the notice of disallowance dated March 3, 2014 and insisting that the appeal should be allowed due course.
The COA-National Government Sector Cluster director had earlier ruled that the BFAR filed the petition out of time since it took agency officials 184 days to challenge the disallowance when the rules only allow a maximum appeal period of 180 days.
“Strict compliance with the reglementary period to file an appeal must be adhered to. There was no plausible explanation given for the delay in the filing of the appeal. Thus, the Director’s decision dismissing the appeal was proper,” the COA said.
Once the appeal period lapses, the Commission declared that the ruling becomes final and executory hence may no longer be modified.
However, even if it were to relax the rules to take a second look at the audit findings, the COA said the petition would still be denied on the ground that the transaction lacked legal basis.
“As aptly pointed out by in the ND (notice of disallowance), the HCMP constitutes an additional benefit, considering that this is on top of the medical program provided by the PHIC (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.),” the COA said.
It stressed that the HCMP was not covered by the list of benefits provided for under the Joint Resolution No. 4 of the House of Representatives and the Senate which set a limit to the regular allowances that government personnel may receive.