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11:17 PM March 7th, 2013

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By: Raul J. Palabrica, March 7th, 2013 11:17 PM

Finally, after 18 months, the Civil Service Commission has come up with the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10154 which requires the early release of the retirement benefits of public officials and employees.

The law applies to the retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits of retiring employees in all government offices, including government-owned and -controlled corporations, except personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The implementing rules state that, under pain of administrative sanctions, these benefits should be paid by the government offices concerned within 30 days from the actual retirement date of the employee.

This obligation rests on the assumption that the employee has filed his intention to retire from the service (whether compulsory or optional) not later than 120 days prior to his retirement date.

After making known his plan, the employee should submit the documents that the office may require for that purpose at least 100 days before quitting the service.

Upon receipt of these documents, the office must immediately take the proper steps to process the application, compute the retirement benefits due and verify the authenticity and accuracy of those papers.

Thus, barring any hitches, come retirement date, the employee can look forward to receiving his money within a month’s time.

Pending cases

The rules provide that payment of the retirement benefits may be withheld only under the following conditions:

The employee has a pending administrative case whose outcome may give rise to his obligation to pay a certain sum of money to the government

A law applicable to the employee specifically authorizes the withholding of the retirement benefits.

Lest it be misunderstood or misused by people with unscrupulous intentions, not every case or complaint filed against a government employee constitutes an administrative case that would justify withholding the release of his benefits.

It is common knowledge that some people who fail to win bids in government projects or were stymied from getting special favors from government officers try to get back at their perceived enemies by filing all kinds of administrative cases, no matter how flimsy, against them.

The rules clearly state that an administrative case shall be construed as such only “when the disciplining authority has issued a formal charge or a notice of charges” to the employee concerned.

In other words, the case or complaint has been evaluated by the disciplining authority as sufficient to warrant a formal investigation on its merits. It may be likened to a complaint filed by a prosecutor in court after preliminary investigation.

Resolution

The pendency of an administrative case, however, will not bar the release of “terminal/accrued leave benefits” that the retiree may be entitled to at the time of his retirement.

This is only fair because his right over these benefits has already been vested by virtue of the services he earlier rendered for which the leaves were given to him.

In “Carmelita Lledo vs Atty. Cesar V. Lledo, Branch Clerk of Court, RTC Branch 94, Quezon City,” Administrative Case No. P-95-1167, dated Feb. 9, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that “despite being dismissed from the service, government employees are entitled to the monetary equivalent of their leave credits since these were earned prior to their dismissal.”

To minimize the adverse effects of the withholding of benefits, the rules impose on the employee’s office the obligation to ensure that the case is terminated or resolved within three months from the date of his retirement.

If that period lapses and the case remains unresolved without justifiable reasons or through no fault of the retiree, the retirement benefits should be immediately released without prejudice to the outcome of the case.

Meaning, in the event he is ordered to pay the government a certain sum of money, he has to draw from his resources (or whatever may be left from his retirement benefits) to satisfy the monetary judgment. If he fails to do so, the government may file a collection suit against him.

But knowing the slow pace of justice in our country, by the time the court decides that case, the retiree may be either six feet under the ground or nowhere to be found.

Penalties

Since the retirement benefits of government employees are drawn from public funds, it is incumbent on government offices to see to it that, way ahead of the retirement of their employees, sufficient provisions are made in the budget they submit to the Department of Budget and Management for the payment of the said benefits.

This task is not rocket science. If personnel records are properly kept, monitored and updated, there is no reason for delay or failure to get budgetary allocation and approval to ensure payment of retirement benefits to employees at the time of their retirement (which is most ideal), or at the latest within 30 days from the date they make their final goodbye to the office.

The officials and employees of government offices who fail or refuse without justifiable reasons to receive complete applications for retirement, or act on such applications within the prescribed periods, or release the retirement benefits due to a retiree can look forward to, after due notice and hearing, suspension from the service for up to one year or, worse, dismissal.

For comments, please send your email to rpalabrica@inquirer.com.ph.

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