GOCC oversight body washes hands of bonusesBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The grant of fat bonuses and excessive allowances in certain government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) may have continued unnoticed by President Benigno Aquino III despite the creation of the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) in 2011.
GCG Chair Cesar Villanueva on Friday insisted that his office had nothing to do with the “unauthorized allowances, bonuses and benefits amounting to P2.313 billion” granted to certain GOCCs in 2012, which had been disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).
In its 2012 annual financial report on GOCCs, the COA ordered officials and employees of 31 GOCCs to refund the government the P2.3 billion that they received in unauthorized bonuses and allowances.
At a press conference in Malacañang on Friday, Villanueva said certain GOCCs under the Aquino administration were still following a compensation framework, including bonuses and allowances, that was approved by the previous Arroyo administration.
“These are not increases. These are the bonuses that actually were there at the time this new administration came in (in 2010),” he said.
Villanueva, a former dean of Ateneo Law School, apparently believes he is powerless to undo the setup.
“We have a principle in both public and private sectors that says, ‘nondiminution of benefits,’” he said.
He insisted that the GCG was not a lame duck commission for having no power to stop the grant of these bonuses, much less reverse an authorization issued by a previous president for the grant of new benefits.
“We’re not a lame duck because precisely that is what [the bonuses were]—without our authorization. Many of the GOCCs must come to us in order to avoid one serious repercussion—receiving a notice of disallowance from the COA, and notice of disallowance usually means that they have to restitute,” he said.
“In other words, they come to us to ask for authorization so that they can get a clearance from the COA. We never grant it. That’s why the COA keeps on reporting it,” Villanueva said.
He also explained that under Republic Act No. 10149 that created the GCG, failing to clear a notice of disallowance has a corresponding administrative penalty.
“So combined together, we’re not a lame duck. They actually need our clearance in order to avoid the consequences—the civil and criminal of a notice of disallowance. They never get them from us. That’s why the COA is able to report them,” Villanueva said.
Reminded that President Aquino had denounced the excessive paychecks and lavish benefits of GOCC executives and had vowed to dismantle the mechanism that allowed this by creating the GCG and ordering a moratorium on GOCC salary and bonus increases, Villanueva said that as far as the GCG is concerned, it has not granted any increase in bonuses or new benefits for GOCC personnel.