I am a former government employee. A year ago, I availed of the early retirement package offered by the agency I worked for. Until now, however, the agency has not released my retirement benefits. Do I have the right to demand that those benefits be released? I badly need the money for my medical operation.
In recognition of the innumerable sacrifices and invaluable services rendered by government employees who, as the law itself states, have spent the best years of their lives serving the government and the public, Republic Act (RA) 10154 was enacted in 2011 with the primary purpose of ensuring the timely and expeditious release of the retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits of all retiring employees of the government.
To implement this policy, the law mandates the release of the retirement benefits of government employees within specified periods of time, which if violated would subject erring public officers and employees to possible administrative responsibility. In general, retiring government employees are entitled to receive the retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits within a period of thirty (30) days from the date of the actual retirement (Sec. 2, RA 10154). The 30-day period, however, is subject to the condition that the retiring employee has submitted all requirements to the concerned government agency at least ninety (90) days prior to the effective date of retirement in order to give the agency reasonable time to process the application for retirement.
The guarantee of expeditious release of retirement benefits is even accorded to those government employees who are under investigation albeit under a different rule. Under the law, if the retiring government employee has pending cases and the retirement benefits are being lawfully withheld due to possible pecuniary liability, the case should be terminated and/or resolved within a period of three (3) months from the date of retirement of the concerned employee. In case the concerned agency fails to terminate and/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, RA 10154). An example of justifiable reason is if the delay is deliberately caused by the retiring employee.
As mentioned, failure of public officials and employees to comply with the above- mentioned provisions can be used as a ground to file an administrative disciplinary action against the erring public officers or employees. If it is established that the failure or refusal to release the retirement benefits due to a retiring government employee within the prescribed periods is unjustified, the concerned public officer or employee can be penalized with suspension from the service without pay from six (6) months to one (1) year at the discretion of the disciplining authority (Sec. 5, RA 10154).
These rights and remedies are available to government employees working for the branches, agencies and/or instrumentalities of the government, including government-owned and/or controlled corporations (GOCCs), except those in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and is applicable both to applications for compulsory retirement and optional or early retirement (Sec. 4, RA 10154).
In your case, one year has lapsed since you retired but you still have not received your retirement benefits. If you have complied with all the requirements, then you have the right to demand the release of your retirement benefits and file a complaint, if necessary, to enforce such right.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other 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 email@example.com