By VINCENT MICHAEL BORNEO *
The most famous auditor of the country has a new bombshell with the just released “2010 Report on Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) Received by Principal Officers and Members of Governing Boards of Government-Owned and-Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and their Subsidiaries and Secretaries, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries and Other Officials of Equivalent Rank of National Government Agencies (NGAs).”
Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said in the introduction to the 900-page report that the objective is “to promote transparency in government by monitoring the annual salaries and allowances received by government officials holding high and/or multiple positions as well as determine the total amount of emoluments and benefits received by them from different state agencies/instrumentalities with which they are affiliated.”
The COA is mandated by law to submit to the President, the Senate and House of Representatives copies of the ROSA. The ROSA of 2009 aided legislators in the different inquiries on excessive allowances and other benefits received by members of governing boards of GOCCs, Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) and NGAs that resulted in the passage of Republic Act 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 that aims to prevent the granting of excessive and unconscionable remuneration packages to directors, trustees, officers and employees of GOCCs, GFIs and their subsidiaries.
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) compared the ROSA 2009 with the 2010 version and found out that COA covered much more and provided more details in the latest report.
Based on the annual General Appropriations Act and other laws, the COA is to incorporate 936 expected reports coming from 613 GOCCs (to include 467 water districts) and 323 NGAs.
For 2010, the COA was able to gather 804 reports – up from the 582 reports in 2009 – and incorporate the data into the ROSA. The 2010 ROSA covers 6,155 government officials from the 804 government agencies and instrumentalities that submitted reports to the COA – up from the 2009 ROSA that covered 3,964 officials. See Table 1
Non-submission of reports
PPTRP also discerned that the 2010 ROSA could not include data from 132 government agencies comprised of 98 NGAs, 14 GOCCs, and water districts and due to non-submission of reports to the COA.
The notable NGAs that did not submit reports to the COA are the House of Representatives, House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), Office of the Press Secretary, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), General Headquarters of the AFP, the Government Arsenal and the Philippine Navy. See Table 2
The PPTRP also noted that except for the Office of the Press Secretary, all agencies in Table 2 also failed to submit reports to the COA in 2009.
Among the bigger GOCCs which did not submit reports to the COA are the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), GSIS Family Bank, GSIS Mutual Fund Inc., and the Land Bank of the Philippines. The 20 water districts with non-submissions are among the smallest ones in the country. The COA report also revealed that different state universities and colleges (SUCs), government centers, commissions and institutes also failed to submit reports in 2010.
In the 2009 ROSA, a total of 552 millionaire government officials who each received salaries and allowances with totals ranging from PhP 1,000,502.60 or USD 24,402 (Federico Laxa, National Housing Authority) to P26,865,923.20 or USD 655,266 (Armand Arreza, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) in that year.
In the same report, the agencies which received the most attention were the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Corporate and Regulatory Offices, Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Social Security System (SSS) due to the “humongous” amounts of bonuses, incentives, representation and transportation allowance (RATA) and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (EME) that its officials showered on themselves. Many officials of these GOCCs even had bonuses that were much bigger than their basic salaries.
The PPTRP noted that among the new government agency additions in the 2010 edition of the ROSA are the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC), Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that did not submit reports to the COA in 2009.
In the 2010 ROSA, the PAGCOR topped the list that counts 774 government officials with at least P1 million (USD 24,390) earned. In the 2009 report, the SBMA topped the list.
In comparing the two reports, PPTRP discovered that former PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Efraim Genuino – who got a total of P3,714,816.20 (USD 90,605) in 2009 – was ranked number 66 in the 2009 ROSA list of government millionaires. His basic salary was P952,032.48 (USD 23,220), other bonuses and incentives reached to P1.44 million (USD 35,122) and his RATA was P1.32 million (USD 32,195).
He took an astronomical rise to number one in the 2010 ROSA.
Genuino, who has been slapped a plunder case in July 2011, raked in a whopping P287,457,717.27 (USD 7 million) comprising of salaries, bonuses and confidential funds in just six months of 2010. Of this amount, his basic salary, allowances and bonuses totalled P 2,636,807.58 (USD 64,312) while his EME was at P1,566,499.39 (USD 38,207). He also had a whopping P283,254,410.30 in confidential/intelligence funds to his name.
PPTRP sought the side of Genuino to no avail. But a former PAGCOR lawyer who served during his term said that “his salary and bonuses to me are definitely above-board. I admit though that the so-called confidential/intelligence funds are quite awkward for PAGCOR mandate since the GOCC does not perform national security functions nor does it have the any responsibility to the whole security sector of the country.”
Top 10 government millionaires in 2010
Following Genuino in the top 10 of the 2010 ROSA list are the following:
2. Current PAGCOR Chair Cristino Naguiat – P 69,185,374.72 (USD 1.68 million)
3. Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales – P 15,918,198.98 (USD 388,248)
4. Angeles City Water District General Manager Romeo Calara – P 15,012,057 (USD 366,147)
5. Clark Development Corp. (CDC) President Benigno Ricafort – P 14,130,778.55 (USD 344,653)
6. Former Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) President Ma. Theresa Defensor – P 12,544,454.70 (USD 305,962)
7. Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) COO Edgardo Garcia – P 11,952,915.34 (USD 291,534)
8. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin – P 10,925,205.98 (USD 266,468)
9. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. – P 10,676,402.90 (USD 260,400)
10. DBP EVP Benedicto Bitonio Jr. – P 9,156,332.54 (USD 233,325)
The former PNCC officials are in now under intense scrutiny as the COA has determined that the GOCC has at least 23 more millionaires aside from its president. They granted themselves hefty bonuses in the first six months of 2010 that was double the amount of all their bonuses from 2005 to 2009. The PNCC is also currently under fire for its failure to remit at least PhP 2.3 billion (USD 56 million) in toll revenues from the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways. They merited mention in the latest State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III.
Another curious item among the Top 10 list is that of former Angeles City Water District General Manager Calara. He received PhP 8,727,857 (USD 212,874) in EME and discretionary funds and PhP 5 million (USD 121,951) in confidential/intelligence funds. This is the first time that a water district official landed in the Top 10 list of ROSA since the COA started this report in 1992.
Engineer Reynaldo Liwanag, current general manager of the Angeles City Water District, refused to take this writer’s call and instead pointed to the Internal Control Office of the agency that likewise refused to entertain PPTRP queries until they saw the COA report.
In fairness to two Angeles City Water District employees who spoke on condition of anonymity, they said that “former GM Calara did not inform us that there were allotments classified as confidential/intelligence funds and we have no idea where it was sourced from or how it was used. We never knew that he was that big a millionaire and we are in fact surprised.”
“We only know that we are a water district and not the police and military that have confidential/intelligence functions that would need funds,” they added.
If this government takes the cue from the leads provided by the COA in its latest ROSA, another slew of graft and plunder cases are in the offing. Those who are found to have taken millions illegally should be prosecuted immediately before they cover up or worse, fly the coop.
For now, the 2010 ROSA reveals to the Filipino people that this where our monies go: to enrich a list of government officials to the tune of millions. # Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
* The author is a freelance writer and researcher on government policies and trends.