Palace defends grant of fat bonuses to MWSS directors

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MANILA, Philippines — It isn’t as big as what the past administration gave away.

Malacañang on Monday defended the eventual grant of bonus, from P300,000 to P500,000, to four board directors of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, saying this was based on their performance.

The Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) has informed the MWSS that four of its appointive board members would receive a performance-based incentive ranging from P300,000 to P500,000.

These bonuses were consistent with the GCG Memorandum Circular 2012-14, which has provided that incentives would be based on “how much the GOCC has met its target achievements’’ and the attendance of the director, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

In 2012, the MWSS posted a net profit of P2 billion, he said. He clarified that the four directors have yet to receive their bonus. He did not name them.

This was a marked departure from 2009 when nine MWSS board members received bonuses averaging P2.5 million each despite a P34-million net loss, Lacierda said.

“When we came in, MWSS declared a net loss of so many hundreds of millions. By the next year, we already declared a net income of so many hundreds of millions. By last year, MWSS already declared billions of pesos in net income,’’ he said in a briefing. “There’s a big difference when you grant a bonus even though you’re not earning. Isn’t that wrong? You’re the stewards of this company, you’re expected to make this company afloat.’’

That was why Lacierda said that what the critics called as “fat bonuses’’ was relative.

When pressed if it was fine to grant such bonuses, Lacierda said: “The commission has rules on that. We can ask Dean Cesar Villanueva on that, but there are guidelines there.’’

MWSS employees last week protested the fat bonuses that the MWSS executives would receive, wondering how these became acceptable to the Aquino administration that initially questioned MWSS perks in 2010.

In his recent State of the Nation Address, President Aquino noticed the transformation of the MWSS from an agency in the red to one that has been earning.

“The MWSS registered losses amounting to P34 million in 2010. This was completely unacceptable. That is why, in 2011, we signed the GOCC Governance Act, which serves as the standard for integrity, credibility, and accountability in the management of our GOCCs,’’ Aquino said.

Then in 2011, the MWSS earned P333 million and P2 billion in 2012, Aquino said.

“Consequently, their dividends have also increased: from P150 million in 2011, these increased to P345 million for 2012. It is saddening though, that the depth of the reforms planted by the MWSS leadership is tarnished by the mudslinging of those who want to cling to the old system,’’ he said.

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