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[av_heading heading=’COA: REFUND ALL EXCESSIVE BONUS ‘ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=” subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” admin_preview_bg=”]
BY PRINCE GOLEZ and ADRIAN STEWART CO
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MANILA – The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered all Iloilo City officials and employees to refund P46.4 million of the Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) they received in 2009.
City officials and employees each received P30,000.
In a decision issued on Dec. 13, 2017 but was made known only last week, COA central office found no merit in the petition for review filed by then Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog on COA Region 6’s ruling upholding the Notice of Disallowance it issued against the PEI.
The PEI was released in December 2009 during the term of then mayor Jerry Treñas (now congressman).
State auditors computed that P46,424,328.24 of the PEI released was in excess of the Personal Services limitation of the city government.
COA Region 6 issued the Notice of Disallowance on Aug. 12, 2010. Mabilog was already the mayor then.
According to state auditors, the P30,000 was much higher than the PEI allowed by COA – P1,950.74.
The Treñas administration granted the PEI based on two ordinances that the Sangguniang Panlungsod – then presided by Mabilog as vice mayor – approved. These were the following:
* Ordinance No. 2009-095 approving Supplemental Budget No. 9 in the amount of P43,465,085.68, including the P31,431,648 calamity fund which was reverted to the unappropriated surplus
* Ordinance No. 2009-096 realigning P31,028,321 from Personal Services savings to augment the payment of PEI
According to COA, however, only P3,228,671.76 was available to the city government for other Personal Services costs, such as the grant of PEI for officials and employees, based on the computation of its 45 percent Personal Services limitation.
It also ruled against the reversion of the P31,431,648 calamity fund to the unappropriated surplus. This was contrary to law, it stressed.
Any unexpended balance of the calamity fund at the end of the current year shall revert to the unappropriated surplus for re-appropriation during the succeeding budget year, stressed COA, citing the Local Government Code.
Treñas told Panay News yesterday he would refer the matter to his lawyers “for proper study.”
“The ruling was received last Friday (Jan. 5, 2018) and it was an order for everyone to return the productivity incentive received in 2009,” he said.
The COA central office’s decision was signed by Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioner Isabel Agito.
In his appeal to the COA Region 6 ruling, Mabilog contended that the grant of PEI was primarily motivated by good faith and the city’s generosity and magnanimity to its officials and employees.
He also argued that most of the funds used in the grant of the PEI were sourced from Personal Services savings and partly from Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses which he claimed in no way adversely affected appropriations for the general services and the welfare of the city.
Although admitting that indeed the city had exceeded the PS limitation, Mabilog said it was their belief that the rationale for the Personal Services limitation was for fiscal sustainability of the local government unit.
In his petition for review filed with COA’s central office, Mabilog further argued that the PEI cannot be subject to Personal Services limitation and that the reversion of the calamity fund to the unappropriated surplus to pay PEI was valid.
But COA rejected these, saying the Department of Budget and Management did not exempt payment of PEI from Personal Service limitations.
“The finding that the city had already exceeded its Personal Services limitation is factual,” stressed COA.
“Public officials who are directly responsible for, or participated in making the illegal expenditures, as well as those who actually received the amounts shall be solidarily liable for their reimbursement,” it said.
COA’s central office also cited the notation on the payroll for the PEI. The notation read: “We hereby acknowledge to have received…the sum herein specified opposite our respective names, the same being full compensation for our services rendered during the period stated below, to the correctness of which we hereby severally certify. Furthermore, to refund the same amount in case of issuance of Notice of Disallowance by the Commission on Audit from our terminal pay or any money claim.”
COA named the following city officials liable for the 2009 PEI aside from Treñas as mayor: Mabilog as vice mayor; City Administrator Melchor Tan; City Treasurer Katherine Tingson and assistant Mary Joan Montaño; City Accountant Michelle Lopez; Assistant City Budget Officer Joy Ann Toledo; Budget Officer IV Dionisia Gargalicana; City Budget Officer Ninda Atinado; councilors Jose Espinosa III, Lyndon Acap, Ely Estante Jr., Jeffrey Ganzon, John Melchor Mabilog, Ma. Irene Ong, Nielex Tupas, Perla Zulueta, Eduardo Peñaredondo, Eldrid Antiquera, Julienne Baronda, Armand Parcon, Antonio Pesina Jr., and Edwin Plagata.
COA also held liable department heads and assistant department heads and more than 1,500 city government employees./PN