AT least 50 more government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) will be abolished before President Benigno Aquino 3rd ends his term, officials of the Governance Commission on GOCCs (GCG) said on Friday.
The scrapping of the state corporations cropped up when GCG officials led by Chairman Cesar Villanueva faced reporters in Malacañang to deny reports that the commission granted unauthorized allowances and bonuses worth P2.3 billion to 30 GOCCs.
The commission “has not granted or authorized, much less it has recommended to the President, any increase in the rates of compensation, bonuses, allowances and other benefits within the GOCC sector,” Villanueva said.
Interview after the briefing, Commissioner Rainier Butalid said that far from even increasing the perks of GOCC officials, the commission had even trimmed the number of GOCCs significantly.
“We started with 158 and now it’s down to 120 and it is still decreasing,” Butalid said.
Villanueva and Butalid said many GOCCs are on the chopping block for a number of reasons, including being “cash cows,” redundancy or duplication of functions, or sheer insignificance.
They did not identify the 28 agencies that have been scrapped but said among those up for abolition are GOCCs involved in recent controversies, among them the National Agribusiness Corp. and Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corp. whose officials were accused of funneling lawmakers’ pork barrel to bogus non-government organizations linked to Janet Lim-Napoles.
Also to be shutdown is the Philippine Forest Corp., which is similarly linked to corruption allegations.
Butalid told The Manila Times the commission was considering reducing the number of GOCCs to “80 or less.”
“There will be more because apart from abolition, we will also see mergers. Many GOCCs, which share the same functions would be joined. Some of these agencies are big,” Butalid said, without elaborating.
Vilanueva dismissed as “inaccurate” reports about the supposed approval by GCG of more than P2 billion in allowances and bonuses despite a presidential moratorium on increases in GOCC perks since 2010.
He said any increase will be allowed only when “specifically authorized by the President himself.”
Villanueva said the prevailing practices of the GOCCs are rooted in the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo.
“The bulk of the COA reported unauthorized allowances, bonuses and benefits amounting to P2.3-billion granted to 30 GOCCs relate to practices or existing rates that were carried over from the previous administration and were therefore inherited by the GOCC governing boards appointed by the current administration,” he said.
“The current GOCC boards were confronted—once they were appointed into office by the President, were actually confronted with the basic dilemma on how to discontinue the grant of the unauthorized salaries, benefits and bonuses of their officers and employees without disrupting public service. The situation was further exacerbated in a number of cases where the legal positions taken on the grants were contrary to the COA position,” Villanueva said.
He said COA did not issue a notice of disallowance on any of the items mentioned in its report, which was released when the issues on allowances and bonuses “were still in the process of being individually sorted out.”