I have been in government service for the past 30 years. I am planning to retire now but I am having second thoughts. My officemates are saying I would not get anything until my pending administrative case is resolved? Is this true? I need to have cash on hand when I retire for my medical needs.
It is true that retirement benefits of a retiring government employee may be withheld if he or she has a pending administrative case at the time of separation from service. The reason behind this rule is to preserve the right of the government to go after an erring government employee for infractions committed during his or her tenure. As declared by the Supreme Court, cessation from office of an employee by resignation or retirement does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against him or her and it does not preclude the finding of any administrative liability to which he or she shall still be answerable (Office of the Ombudsman vs. Dechavez, G.R. No. 176702, November 13, 2013 citing Baquerfo v. Sanchez, 455 SCRA 13). This is especially true in cases where an employee is accused of a violation that carries the penalty of forfeiture of benefits, including retirement benefits.
But do not be dismayed. Our state affords protection to retiring government employees. Republic Act (RA) 10154 guarantees the right of government employees to timely and expeditious release of their retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits. It mandates the speedy disposition of the case against a retiring government employee whose retirement benefits are being lawfully withheld because of possible pecuniary liability. Under the law, an administrative case should be terminated and/or resolved within a period of three (3) months from the date of retirement of the concerned employee. If the office or agency fails to terminate or resolve the case within the said period without any justifiable reason, the retirement benefits due to the employee should be immediately released to him or her without prejudice to the ultimate resolution of the case. (Sec. 3, Id.) Thus, the period within which a retiring government employee has to wait before receiving his or her retirement benefits is limited.
Moreover, a retiring government employee may still ask for terminal leave pay even if his or her retirement benefits are lawfully withheld on account of a pending administrative case. Terminal leave pay refers to the cash value of an employee’s accumulated leave credits. It refers to the commutation of the leave credits intended for old age or separation from the service (Borromeo vs. CSC, 199 SCRA 911). According to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10154, the terminal/accrued leave benefits of a retiring employee shall in no case be withheld because of a pending administrative case (Sec. 6, Memorandum Circular No. 07, S. 2013). Hence, a retiring government employee with pending administrative case can still reasonably expect to receive the terminal leave pay upon compliance with the requirements set by law and rules.
We hope this opinion will serve you well. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org