The Commission on Audit’s (CoA) Commission Proper has affirmed the disallowance on the payment of calamity assistance, gift checks, goodwill incentive and Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) incentive in 2012 and 2013 amounting P8.343 million to then-officials and employees of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
In a decision dated July 4, 2019, the Commission Proper partially granted the consolidated petitions for review filed by several persons regarding the CoA National Government Sector (NGS)-Cluster 4’s decision, dated June 29, 2015.
The 2015 decision affirmed notices of disallowance (NDs) dated Oct. 30, 2013 and supplemental NDs dated Nov. 27, 2013 on the said payment.
“As to the merits, this Commission finds the payments of the benefits/incentives without legal basis,” the Commission Proper said in its decision.
But it held that the recipients of the disallowed benefits do not need to refund the money, while the rest of the people named liable for the disallowances, particularly those who supposedly signed the PCGG resolutions and the then-officers who approved or certified the disbursement vouchers/payrolls, remain liable.
Disallowed were the payment of calamity assistance to then-PCGG officials and employees, expense entitlement (EE) personnel, special legal counsels (SLCs) and consultants (P1.65 million); the payment of calamity assistance to then-PCGG EE personnel and consultant (P23,000); the payment of gift checks to then-PCGG officials and employees, EE personnel, SLCs and consultants (P3.446 million); the payment of goodwill incentives to then-PCGG officials and employees (P1.136 million); the payment of goodwill incentives to then-PCGG SLCs and consultants (P316,000); and the payment of goodwill incentives to then-PCGG EE personnel (P390,000).
The payments, according to CoA, were “not authorized/approved by the President (Rodrigo Duterte).”
The payment of calamity assistance to then-PCGG EE personnel and consultant (P23,000) and grant of CNA incentives (P1.382 million) were also deemed irregular, as they were made to personnel under contract of service/job order.
The Commission Proper cited Budget Circular 2012-4, which states that “only rank-and-file employees and personnel performing managerial functions of the government” were entitled to the payment of CNA incentives.
The petitioners had argued Executive Order (EO) 80 conferred discretion upon PCGG to determine which allowances, incentives and bonuses to grant to its personnel.
The Commission Proper, however, said this EO specifically dealt with the adoption of Performance-Based Incentive System (Productivity Enhancement Incentive and the Performance-Based Bonus) for government employees.
“Therefore, the PCGG cannot grant financial assistance and incentives to its personnel under EE, SLCs and consultants out of acts of liberality, equity and compassion, but should be pursuant to an existing law or as authorized by the President. Consequently, thee defense of good faith being invoked by petitioners cannot be appreciated in their favor,” the Commission Proper said
“From the foregoing, the grant of calamity assistance, gift checks, and goodwill incentive is without legal basis, and the payment of CNA incentives to personnel under EE, SLCs and consultant is contrary to existing rules and regulations. Hence, this Commission finds no justifiable reason to modify or reverse CoA-NGS–Cluster 4 Decision No. 2015-016”, it said.