MANILA - Information technology consultant Helen Macasaet on Tuesday defended the P250,000 monthly salary she received from the Supreme Court after being hired by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Macasaet, whose experience in the field spans about 36 years, said her P250,000 salary should not be surprising when top IT professionals can receive monthly gross compensation of P500,000 to P1.5 million.
She said she was paid P925,000 monthly from November 2008 to June 2010 for building back the database of state-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) after an application crash in 2009.
"I don’t like the insinuations in the papers that probably I’m making money in this kind of engagement when in fact I have taken a cut," she told ANC's Headstart.
"At this time and age, I’m about to retire, I wanted to give something back to the government…I wanted to be able to demonstrate and support a reform program that is the use of ICT," she said.
Macasaet said she was not given the consultant job as Sereno's friend, noting that she only met with the top magistrate around two times before the offer.
The hiring of Macasaet is part of the impeachment complaint against Sereno, alleging the Chief Justice betrayed public trust by hiring a consultant without public bidding and paying her with excessive fees.
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Carlos Garay, acting chief of the SC Management Information Systems Office (MISO), told lawmakers discussing Sereno's impeachment complaint that despite Macasaet's hiring, the effects were “not substantial” in terms of improving the efficiency of the judiciary’s IT system.
Macasaet said like their colleagues at the Supreme Court, she was surprised with Garay's statements during the hearing. She said Garay, who is also a lawyer, had only been in the ICT industry for 3 years before being assigned to the SC office.
"Ms. Macasaet is ready to explain her qualifications prior to SC hiring, to show Garay that he was wrong in saying Helen was not qualified. He's the one who is not qualified," said Inocencio Ferrer, Macasaet's lawyer.
Macasaet said she was the "chief architect" of the project to launch a "disaster site" for the judiciary, which would computerize their documents and keep them safe from disaster risks.
She said Garay would not have the experience to do what she did.
Macasaet's contract with the Supreme Court ended in November 2017. She said she chose not to renew it because of the controversies attached to her hiring.