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Blaquera v.

Alcala,
GR 109406,
11 September 1998

Facts:
Petitioners are officials and employees of several government departments and agencies
who were paid incentive benefits for the year 1992, pursuant to Executive Order No. 292 1 ("EO
292"), otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, and the Omnibus Rules
Implementing Book V 2 of EO 292. On January 19, 1993, then President Fidel V. Ramos
("President Ramos") issued Administrative Order No. 29 ("AO 29") authorizing the grant of
productivity incentive benefits for the year 1992 in the maximum amount of P1,000.00 3 and
reiterating the prohibition 4 under Section 7 5 of Administrative Order No. 268 ("AO 268"),
enjoining the grant of productivity incentive benefits without prior approval of the President.
Section 4 of AO 29 directed "[a]ll departments, offices and agencies which authorized payment
of CY 1992 Productivity Incentive Bonus in excess of the amount authorized under Section 1
hereof [are hereby directed] to immediately cause the return/refund of the excess within a period
of six months to commence fifteen (15) days after the issuance of this Order." In compliance
therewith, the heads of the departments or agencies of the government concerned, who are the
herein respondents, caused the deduction from petitioners' salaries or allowances of the amounts
needed to cover the alleged overpayments. To prevent the respondents from making further
deductions from their salaries or allowances, the petitioners have come before this Court to seek
relief.

Issue:
Whether or not the forcible refund for granting excess Productivity Incentive Bonus
through deductions from the salaries and allowances of the government employees is an
unconstitutional impairment of contractual obligation?
Ruling:
Anent petitioners' contention that the forcible refund of incentive benefits is an
unconstitutional impairment of a contractual obligation, suffice it to state that "[n]ot all contracts
entered into by the government will operate as a waiver of its non-suability; distinction must be
made between its sovereign and proprietary acts (United States of America v. Ruiz, 136 SCRA
487)." 35 The acts involved in this case are governmental. Besides, the Court is in agreement
with the Solicitor General that the incentive pay or benefit is in the nature of a bonus which is
not a demandable or enforceable obligation.
The President issued subject Administrative Orders to regulate the grant of productivity
incentive benefits and to prevent discontentment, dissatisfaction and demoralization among
government personnel by committing limited resources of government for the equal payment of
incentives and awards. The President was only exercising his power of control by modifying the
acts of the respondents who granted incentive benefits to their employees without appropriate
clearance from the Office of the President, thereby resulting in the uneven distribution of
government resources. In the view of the President, respondents did a mistake which had to be
corrected.
Neither can it be said that the President encroached upon the authority of the Commission on
Civil Service to grant benefits to government personnel. AO 29 and AO 268 did not revoke the
privilege of employees to receive incentive benefits. The same merely regulated the grant and
amount thereof.