Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday defended the move of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG Fund to release P37 million to its employees, saying the money was part of the employees’ benefits.
Binay, the fund’s chairman of the board, said the amount is not a bonus.
“These benefits have prior approval from those who are in direct supervision of government corporations such as Pag-IBIG Fund,” he said.
Pag-IBIG President and CEO Darlene Marie B. Berberabe said the P37 million, which was a subject of a Commission on Audit (COA) report, was for the separation pay of employees who retired in 2012.
Berberabe said that Pag-IBIG was not among the 31 government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) ordered by COA to return unauthorized bonuses and allowances they gave to their officials and employees in 2012.
She said the reason COA is disallowing the separation pay is that it could be a duplication of the retirement pay.
“The COA report does not pertain to bonus or incentive to employees or officers or board members. It pertains to separation pay under our early retirement program,” she said.
But Berberabe denied that there was double payment to their employees.
“We have a legal position that at the time that we paid the separation pay, there was no double payment, thus we will move for the reconsideration of COA’s findings,” she said.
The fund maintained that employees should be given benefits due them from the agency apart from what they will be receiving from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
“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 will receive from the GSIS are retirement insurance benefits for which they paid monthly premiums,” Berberabe said.
Besides, she said, the employees received their separation benefits ahead of their retirement claims from the GSIS, so there was no double retirement payment.