26 May 2014

CA Members and Staff Awarded Themselves with Fat Pay

Commission on Appointments
Have you ever wondered how much is the salary of each member of the powerful Committee on Appointments (CA)?

If you think working with Government Corporations will entitle you to immoral and blasphemous wage rates, then you are in for a surprise after knowing that those rates pale in comparison with those received by people working with the CA.

Considered as a constitutional body of the Congress of the Philippines, CA confirms certain appointments made by the President. It is powerful because it can delay the confirmation of the appointed cabinet members, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

However, this power should not extend to the granting of humungous allowances and bonuses to themselves using public funds. This was the consensus made by a report from the Commission on Audit (COA), which scrutinized the CA’s 2012 Statement of Income and Expenses.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was the CA chairman in 2012, while the vice chairman was ParaƱaque City Rep. Roilo Golez.

Out of the PhP 450.88 million budget allocated for the CA in 2012, PhP 159.45 million went to the personal services (PS) or salaries of the chairman, 24 members, 112 support staff and 105 secretariat personnel.

The PhP 159.45 million PS should include salaries, benefits, allowances and bonuses of the agency. But the CoA said the CA decided to increase their take home allowances by adding another PhP 204.41 million taken out of its maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

The extra chunk of compensation was then designated as "other maintenance and operating expenses" (OMOE).

"Further analysis of the account revealed that this is composed of various allowances such as rice subsidy allowance, food subsidy and staple food assistance, additional grocery expense, salary, longevity/incentive benefits, educational allowance, mid-year economic assistance, milestone anniversary bonus, Yuletide package and such other forms of benefits…," CoA said in its report.

The breakdown of the PhP 204.41 million is as follows:
  • Additional grocery expense, grocery bonus – PhP 21.654 million
  • Longevity/Incentive Benefits, chairman’s incentive bonus - PhP 15.692 million
  • Yuletide Package – PhP 14.363 million
  • Financial Relief, chairman’s calamity and inflationary calamity assistance – PhP 13.52 million
  • Reimbursable traveling expense, transportation – PhP 13.264 million
  • Mid-year economic assistance, yearend performance incentive – PhP 12.842 million
  • Cost of living allowance – PhP 9.266 million
  • Efficiency benefits – PhP 9.095 million
  • Educational allowance - PhP 8.453 million
  • Milestone, anniversary bonus – PhP 5.81 million
  • Rice subsidy allowance – PhP 4.634 million
  • Food subsidy and staple food assistance – PhP 4.216 million
  • Salary - PhP 10,349.74
  • MOOE for CA members – PhP 71.591 million
The CoA said the CA did not explain further the last item, which is the biggest allocation and deemed to be part of the MOOE.

On the other hand the PhP 159.45 million PS was itemized as:
  • Salaries and wages (regular) – PhP 95.394 million
  • Salaries and wages (casual) – PhP 8.789 million
  • Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) – PhP 4.981 million
  • Representation Allowance – PhP 3.258 million
  • Transportation allowance – PhP 3.125 million
  • Clothing allowance – PhP 1.18 million
  • Subsistence and Laundry Allowance - PhP 19,800
  • Productivity Incentive Benefits – PhP 699,000
  • Honoraria – PhP 189,150
  • Other Bonus and Allowances – PhP 3.131 million
  • Overtime and Night Pay – PhP 2.662 million
  • Cash Gift – PhP 1.129 million
  • Year End Bonus – PhP 8.539 million
  • Life and Retirement Insurance Contributions — PhP 11.325 million
  • Pag-IBIG contributions – PhP 253,950
  • PhilHealth contributions – PhP 822,975
  • ECC contributions – PhP 252,392.56
  • Retirement benefit- civilian – PhP 8.376 million
  • Terminal Leave Benefits - PhP 3.173 million
  • Other Personnel Benefits – PhP 2.152 million
Because the OMOE was recorded as “operating funds” instead of personal services, COA said the extra pay of CA officials and staff was not subjected to withholding tax.

According to the COA, such system was inappropriate and violated the Philippine Government Chart of Accounts.