By Jeffrey Damicog
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Commission on Audit (COA) to release the retirement benefits of 141 retired employees of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
In its 32-page decision, the SC granted the petition of the 141 retired DBP employees who sought to void the COA’s notice of disallowance on the bank’s Early Retirement Incentive Program IV (ERIP IV).
“In view of the Court’s ruling herein that the ERIP IV is valid, there is nothing that prevents DBP from releasing the benefits under ERIP IV-2010,” read the ruling penned by SC Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
With this, the SC made permanent the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued the COA’s notice of disallowance on Feb. 18, 2014.
The COA issued the notice of disallowance following a 2007 audit observation memorandum which indicated that the ERIP IV was not approved by the Secretary of Finance in violation of the DBP charter.
The audit body also pointed out that the 141 would get retirement benefits from the Government Insurance Service System (GSIS) on top of what they would receive under ERIP IV in violation of the Teves Retirement Law.
However, the SC agreed with the petitioners who underscored that ERIP IV was an early retirement incentive plan and not prohibited supplementary retirement benefits as claimed by the COA.
Regardless, the SC pointed out the DBP charter allows supplementary retirement plans.