CA allows payment of benefits to INP retirees

MANILA — A ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA) has allowed the payment of pension benefits to retired members of the defunct Integrated National Police (INP).

In its eight-page decision dated December 12, the special 14th Division of the appellate court ordered the full implementation of a 2016 CA decision for the release of PHP3.9 billion in benefits to the INP retirees by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Entitled to the differentials are INP retirees, transferees and their survivors who had rendered service before the enactment of Republic Act 6975, the law that created the PNP and made it  a reorganized body under the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and their survivors.

A PNP and DBM petition questioned the order of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in July last year, which would use the list of INP retirees and the pension amounts due them submitted by PNP for the implementation of the pension payment.

The CA turned down the statement of the PNP and DBM to await and apply a list from the Government Service Insurance System instead of the PNP list in the payment of pension differentials to the INP retirees.

The PNP and DBM argued that the participation of GSIS in the payment of retirement benefits is necessary as it is the only agency that can provide pension history of the INP retirees.

They further stressed that the retirement pay must be subject to conditions and limitations to ensure that such public funds would be released only to rightful beneficiaries.

The CA, however, sided with the position earlier submitted by the GSIS that “the responsibility to evaluate the list of retirees lies with the PNP as their employer.”

“Here, the PNP and DBM cannot be permitted to further delay or thwart the execution of judgment against them by continuously rehashing allegations that have long been rejected,” the CA held in the ruling penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez.

Associate Justices Zenaida Galapate – Laguilles and Ronaldo Roberto Martin concurred.

The appellate court explained that the payment of retirement benefits to INP retirees with equal amount given to PNP retirees had already been affirmed with finality by the Supreme Court and that Congress had also already appropriated funds for this purpose by the enactment of Republic Act 10633 (An act appropriating funds for the operation of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines from January 1 to December 31, 2014 and for other purposes).

The CA likewise ruled that the RTC was correct in rejecting petitioners’ plea to withhold the payment of the pension to INP retirees pending submission of the list from GSIS.

“The appropriation law is clear that the release of funds shall be based on the list of eligible INP retirees with the corresponding computation of their respective retirement benefits and pension, duly authenticated by the PN, which shall be submitted to the DBM for validation of the computed benefits. Likewise, the PNP and DBM need not await the verification from GSIS before releasing the funds,” it stressed.

“Considering the INP retirees’ advance years, they can hardly afford another protracted proceeding and the courts should frown upon any attempt to deprive them of the fruits of the final and executory verdict,” the ruling added.

The PNP and DBM had initially released PHP900 million to 785 INP retirees in 2015 but only after receiving the list of verified beneficiaries from GSIS.

INP was the forerunner of the current PNP, which was merged with the Philippine Constabulary. Benjamin Pulta /PNA-northboundasia.com