COA report on envoys’ pay inaccurate – DFA

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There are “inaccuracies” in the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report on the salaries and allowances of Philippine ambassadors who were tagged as among the highest paid government officials, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

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In a statement, the department belied the COA Report on Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) for 2014, saying it “inaccurately indicates several Philippine ambassadors as the highest paid officials of the Philippine government.”

Ambassadors, like other members of the Philippine civil service, “receive salaries that are based on the Salary Standardization Law,” the department explained.

However, it admitted that envoys are provided with official residences while they are assigned abroad.

“The rental fee for the official residence is paid by the Philippine government directly to the owner of the property and not to the personal account of an ambassador,” the department said.

“The COA report computed these rental fees as part of the allowances of Philippine ambassadors, which is misleading,” it added.

It maintained that all allowances of Philippine ambassadors follow the United Nations Index System, which is based on the living standards and economic conditions of countries where Philippine embassies and consulates are maintained.

The COA report said Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Erlinda Basilio was the highest paid government official in 2014, receiving P16.439 million last year, which included a basic pay of P947,352 and allowances reaching more than P15 million.

It also showed that she received P146,318 in bonuses, incentives and benefits.

Basilio was posted to Beijing in December 2012, but she was not on COA’s list of top 10 highest paid official in 2013.

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