Angeles City water district

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EMETERIO SD. PEREZ

BISCUIT maker Jacinto L. Ng Sr. topped the list of the 500 biggest income taxpayers in 2014. On its website, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said Ng paid in 2015 an income tax of P280,107,497 for his income in the previous year.

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As in the past, the BIR omitted the taxable income of the top 500 taxpayers it has been monitoring every year. Ng must have earned close to P875 million—P874,945,303.125 to be exact—in 2014 for which he was levied an income tax of P280,107,497. His taxable income resulted from computations based on the BIR’s suggested formula.

The use of Mr. Ng’s income tax and his taxable income is intended only to illustrate the huge gap between the compensations of the government’s top officials and those of the executives employed by private companies.

Here is an example: Mr. Ng’s income tax of more than P280 million dwarfed the compensation the government paid Amando Tetangco Jr., who, as governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, received P13,957,395 in 2015.

This means Ng’s income tax payment of P280,107,497 could have possibly paid for all the top 500 well-compensated officials in the government, including Tetangco.

PNP’s pays and perks
The comparison does not end here. In fact, the big difference between the compensations of Ng and Tetangco brings Due Diligencer to the main topic of this piece: the continued neglect of the police by the government.

Why should the government’s payroll make a water district’s general manager a multi-millionaire many times over while it pays the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) only a pittance?

The discrepancy in pays and perks can best be illustrated by comparisons.

The Commission on Audit reported that Police Director General Ricardo Cornejo Marquez, who was at No. 3,732 on the COA’s list of highest paid government officials, received P591,522 for serving as PNP chief for 5.5 months in 2015. This included his basic salary of P362,881, or P65,578 a month. Had he served for 12 months, he would have been compensated a total of P791,741.

Other PNP chiefs
To better appreciate the numbers, try deducting Marquez’s basic pay of P362,881 from P591,522 and you will arrive at P228,641. This means that for five-and-a-half months, the PNP chief should have exercised more prudence in spending his remaining budget of P228,641 for him to efficiently serve a country with more than 100 million people.

Take a look at the salaries of the other PNP chiefs in the past years. Alan Purisima headed the police force in 2013. Of his compensation of P1,368,350, his basic pay amounted to P810,000. He did not have a discretionary fund, according to COA, which placed him at No. 1,172 among the government officials.

In 2012, Nicanor Bartolome received P1,298,440, of which P760,000 was his basic salary. His gross compensation landed him on No. 1,049. The COA report also said that as PNP chief, he did not have a discretionary fund. He was at No. 1,425 in 2011 when he was paid P966,056, of which P545,389 was his basic pay.

Well-paid GM
Reynaldo Liwanag, general manager of the Angeles City water district, was “demoted” to No. 1,753 in COA’s ranking of highest paid government executives in 2015. His compensation during the year totaled P1,259,166, of which more than half or 65.213 percent went to pay his basic salary of P821,136.

In 2013, Liwanag was the No. 5 highest paid official with compensation of P8,830,539 including a discretionary fund of P7,452,805. Of the total, he received a basic salary of P802,180.

Only four government executives topped Liwanag’s compensation in 2013. These were Robert Vergara, president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System, P12,088,476; Gilda Pico, president of the government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines, P10,292,930; Amando Tetangco Jr., Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor, P9,988,692; and Darlene Marie Berberabe, chief executive officer of Home Development Mutual Fund, P9,385,050.

Liwanag’s compensation of P5,996,197 landed him at No. 17 in 2011. The amount also covered his basic salary of P597,579. Unlike some PNP chiefs, his compensation included a discretionary fund of P4,947,222.

Liwanag succeeded Romeo Calara, who as general manager of Angeles City water district, received P15,012,057 in 2010, including discretionary fund of P8,727,857. Of the total, his basic salary amounted to P708,000.

Last but not least
If a profitable water district can afford to allocate a multi-million peso discretionary fund to a head of a water district, why can’t the government provide the police with enough logistics to successfully protect the country’s population that has boomed to more than 100 million?

The question is not posed here for the government to take away the pays and perks of water district officials. If these water service providers can pay its employees with their net profits, so be it. Instead of depriving them of their discretionary funds, this kind of generosity should also trickle down to other government agencies, especially the police.

Of course, there are scalawags in the police. Corruption, however, is not and has never been a monopoly of the men and women in police uniforms. It is as rampant, if not worse, in other sectors of society.

Finally, the use of the word scalawag should not be applied solely to dirty cops. There are also as many if not more corrupt in organizations and businesses that may or may not all be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

By the way, with the police chiefs deprived of discretionary funds, where will they get extra money to spend for a 24-hour public service? Just asking.

esdperez@gmail.com

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