LAWYER Emilio Benito Aquino is the newest member of the five-person regulatory body of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As the first appointee of President Duterte to the SEC, he replaced Manuel Huberto Gaite, whose seven-year term expired in March 2016.
Gaite was appointed SEC commissioner by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Aquino joins an SEC that has already been reduced to a mere depository of company files of privately owned stock corporations and partnerships.
Having served the SEC in various capacities from 1993 to 2005, Aquino’s fellow commissioners were all appointees of President Benigno Cojuangco-Aquino 3rd. They are SEC Chairperson Teresita Herbosa, who was appointed in May 2011; Antonieta F. Ibe, Oct. 1, 2012; James Blas G. Viterbo, May 2014; and Ephyro Luis B. Amatong, April 23, 2014.
Aquino (the SEC commissioner, not the ex-president) returns to the SEC, which now functions as a library of corporate files and administrative matters. He knows all about this because he left the SEC in 2005, four years after the amended Securities Regulation Code took effect in June 2001.
Bigger pay, less work
“Sky is the limit” could have become the slogan that guided the SEC in raising the salaries of the members of the five-person commission. Although this did not happen, the salary increases, however, became a monopoly of the five commissioners, then headed by Chairperson Lilia Bautista.
SEC insiders said Bautista and the four other SEC associate commissioners increased their salaries —P350,000 a month for her and P250,000 for the four commissioners. Then they had their new pays approved by Malacañang without bothering to adjust the compensation of the directors and rank-and-file employees.
Incidentally, Bautista, a government retiree, remains active as a member of the boards of a few listed companies. SEC insiders said she receives a monthly pension of P350,000 a month from the Government Service Insurance System.
I do not know how much Aquino would be paid as the newest member of the SEC’s five-person commission. To give the readers of The Manila Times an idea of the pays and perks of a commissioner, I am quoting from a report of the Commission on Audit on the compensation of top government officials.
For eight months in 2011, Herbosa, who replaced SEC Chairperson Fe Barin, received P2,136,175, of which P1,191,27 was her basic salary. The four commissioners, namely Ma. Juanita E. Cueto, Eladio Jala, Raul Palabrica and Gaite, were paid P2,084,049 each.
A year after, the SEC, as proposed and approved by Herbosa and company, increased their compensation as follows: Herbosa, P7,096,346; Cueto and Jala, P4,724,300 each. Palabrica, whose term ended during the year, got P3,846,840 in his last nine months as SEC commissioner, while Ibe received P1,304,252 in her first two months of service.
What a raise!
On her fifth year as SEC chief in 2015, Herbosa’s compensation totaled P9,801,270. The SEC paid each of the four commissioners P6,531,171. That’s a total of P35,95,954 of government funds going to the top five officials of what is supposed to be a securities regulatory agency.
The SEC’s rank-and-file workers may see some hope in Aquino as a commissioner. Having been one of them many years ago and as a returning SEC official, he would understand better the sad plight of his co-workers.
For a start, Aquino may want to review the compensation that he would be paid as a commissioner. By comparing his pays and perks and those of his fellow commissioners starting with Herbosa’s, with those of the SEC’s ordinary workers, he would understand why SEC workers have long been griping about the widening gap between their salaries and the pays and perks of their bosses.