Morales rewarded more financially as Aquino appointee

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

IN her last 5.6 months in the Supreme Court in 2011 as one of 14 associate justices, Conchita C. Morales received a basic salary of P534,091. For 10.76 months during the year, her total compensation, including perks, hit almost P3 million, of which P983,885 was her basic pay, including P449,794 in her first 5.16 months as Ombudsman, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

A computation showed that Morales’ basic pay of P983,885 in a little over 10 months was equivalent to 32.995 percent of her gross compensation of P2,981,876, or P277,126 per month, in 2011.

Of P2,981,876, Morales got P187,687 a month or a total of P1,997,991 – 67 percent – in additional pays and perks.

When computed, Morales’ remaining tenure of 5.6 months in the Supreme Court until her retirement in 2011 equals 168 days, while her 5.16 months as Ombudsman translates to 154.8 days. As a government worker for 322 days in 2011, she was rewarded with daily basic pay of P3,055.


Morales’ P3-M compensation

On the other hand, Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez, Morales’ predecessor, grossed P499,612, or P119,239 a month, in 4.19 months. Of her 2011gross compensation, P295,913, or 59.229 percent, represented her basic pay in her last months in office. The remaining P203,699, or 40.771 percent, went to her additional pays and perks.

The numbers showed Morales’ advantage over Gutierrez in terms of compensation, suggesting either generosity or charity of the temporary occupant of Malacañang. Was the administration of President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd more generous than that of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?

Well-compensated

In detailing Morales’ compensation, COA’s audit findings showed that her multiple government posts paid well. As an associate justice for 5.6 months in 2011, she was at the same time chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) for 5.4 months, and member of Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) for 5.16 months.

The two government posts, which Morales occupied simultaneously, paid well. However, she received compensation – basic pay plus additional perks – only as an associate justice for 5.6 months and as Ombudsman for 5.16 months.

As an associate justice, Morales received basic salary, P534,091; personal economic relief allowance (PERA), P11,090; allowances, P302,535; bonus, incentives and benefits, P282,570; “others,” P40,000; and discretionary and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, P136,266.

As Ombudsman, Morales got a basic pay of P449,794; PERA, P10,363; allowances, P57,129; bonus, incentives and benefits, P67,601; and discretionary and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, P146,000.

Perks

Instead of basic salary, Morales drew additional pays and perks from her other government assignments in 2011. Among these were PERA; allowances; bonus, incentives and benefits; and discretionary and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses. Unclassified items fell under “others.”

Was Morales guilty of “double compensation” for getting pad for other government services? Based on COA’s report, she did not. For other services, she did not get basic salary but incentives.

As HRET chairman for 5.56 months in 2011, Morales received allowances, P140,000; bonus, incentives and benefits, P459,200; and discretionary and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, P136,266.

As PET member, she received bonus, incentives and benefits, P119,466 and discretionary and emergency and miscellaneous expenses, P89,600.

As an associate justice, Morales had other jobs that paid her additional pays and perks. In 2011, her gross compensation of P2,981,876 consisted of basic salary, P983,885; PERA, P21,454; allowances, P499,564; bonus, incentives and benefits, P928,839; “others”, P40,000; and discretionary and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, P508,133.

Due Diligencer’s take

As full-time Ombudsman, Morales had to contend with getting paid less. Going by the compensation of her predecessor, Gutierrez, who received P1,357,375 in 2010, she was lucky to have been paid close to P3 million in 2011.

Morales, though, was luckier than Gutierrez. She was rewarded more financially as an Aquino appointee. Not that Gutierrez did not deserve much more but the numbers made the Arroyo presidency less generous than Aquino’s.

In 2012, Morales’ compensation totalled P2,012,073, down by P969,803 from P2,981,876 in 2011 but was still higher by P654,698 than Gutierrez’s P1,357,375 in 2010.

Available COA postings showed Morales’ basic salary, and additional pays and perks of P2,981,876 in 2011, was 2.485 times those of Gutierrez who, in 2009, was paid P1,199,784.

Ombudsman Morales must have been more deserving of bigger basic pay and incentives than Gutierrez. Wasn’t she? Just asking.

esdperez@gmail.com

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