2017 COA report: Calida among top 10 highest-paid in gov’t
Solicitor General Jose Calida has become the government’s fourth highest-paid official, a feat unmatched by his predecessors in the last five years.
Calida earned a total of P10,917,156.49 last year, according to the 2017 Report on Salaries and Allowances by the Commission on Audit (COA).
His compensation, largely from allowances, put him in fourth place on the COA list of officials in government agencies and in government-owned and -controlled corporations who received the highest salaries and allowances last year.
Only Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. (P14.92 million) and Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo (P13.5 million), and Development Bank of the Philippines CEO Cecilia Borromeo (P12.46 million) earned more than Calida.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. was also the first member of the judiciary to land in the top 10 highest-paid people in government service in recent memory. He earned P9.59 million, putting him in sixth place behind BSP’s Deputy Governor Maria Almasara Cyd Tuaño-Amador (P10.16 million).
Rounding out the top 10 were BSP’s Assistant Governor Wilhelmina Mañalac (P9.28 million) and Senior Assistant Governor Ma. Ramona Gertrudes Santiago (P9.24 million), and Monetary Board members Felipe Medalla (P8.869 million) and Juan de Zuñiga Jr. (P8.868 million).
In contrast, President Rodrigo Duterte would have earned between P2.81 million and P2.89 million in 2017, and Vice President Leni Robredo, between P2.31 million and P2.58 million, in salaries based on the Salary Standardization Law.
There were no available figures for allowances for the country’s two highest officials in the pay scale published by the Official Gazette.
Those who had served as solicitor general typically earned millions of pesos, but the COA had consistently questioned their allowances, which exceeded 50 percent of their salaries.
Calida was no exception, as the COA’s 2017 annual audit report on the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) showed his annual salary for that year was only P1.83 million. However, he received what the COA said was “excess” allowances amounting to P8.37 million.
The non-BSP officials in the top 20 were Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa (12th, P8.7 million), Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta (16th, P7.45 million), Philippine Competition Commission Chair Arsenio Balisacan (18th, P7.29 million) and Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo (20th, P7.27 million).
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and recently ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno earned P6.83 million and P6.49 million, respectively, putting them in the 21st and 24th places.
No Supreme Court justice received salaries and allowances as high as Velasco’s in the last few years.
The previous highest-paid justices were Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro in 2016 (12th overall, P8.14 million), Peralta in 2015 (14th, P7.8 million), and Velasco in 2014 (74th, P6.16 million), 2013 (21st, P5.67 million), 2012 (61st, P4.79 million) and 2011 (47th, P4.63 million).
Senior Vice President Maria Obdulia Vitug-Palanca was the highest-paid official of the Government Service Insurance System and 27th overall (P6.1 million).
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office General Manager Alexander Balutan placed 38th with P5.76 million.
Calida took over as solicitor general in July 2016 after President Duterte assumed the presidency. He earned P2.42 million (or P0.4 million a month) by the end of that year, putting him in 395th place.
Calida’s immediate predecessor, Florin Hilbay, who served only until June 2016, ranked 28th that year with P5.81 million. When he served for a full year in 2015, Hilbay earned P6.93 million and ranked 23rd.
Hilbay assumed the position on Aug. 20, 2014, and earned P2.34 million at year’s end, putting him in 385th place. His predecessor, now Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, earned P4.91 million that year and ranked 124th.
Jardeleza earned P3.94 million in 2013 and ranked 134th in that year’s COA report, the earliest available record of the OSG chief’s earnings in comparison with officials in other government agencies.