MANILA - Is the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) toothless?
On Friday, the GCG reiterated that it has not granted or authorized any increase in the compensation, bonuses, allowances and other benefits in GOCCs.
GCG Chairman Cesar Villanueva said the GCG has denied the applications of GOCCs for an increase, citing the moratorium on any increase as provided by Executive Order No. 7.
He said that the unauthorized allowances, bonuses and benefits were a result of “practices or existing rates carried over” from the Arroyo administration.
“Our evaluation shows that since September 2010, no increases on new benefits were authorized within the GOCC sector as a result of President Aquino’s EO 7 mandating a moratorium on increases in salaries, allowances, incentives and other benefits within the GOCC sector, save in instances only when the President has authorized it himself and this would be covered the PBB (performance-based bonus) and PBI (performance-based incentive),” Villanueva said.
“Therefore, the bulk of the COA reported unauthorized allowances, bonuses and benefits amounting to P2.3-billion granted to 30 GOCCs relate to practices or existing rates that were carried over from the previous administration and were therefore inherited by the GOCC governing boards appointed by the current administration.”
The GCG has received the explanation of GOCCs under it that addresses the points raised in the COA report on the alleged unauthorized release of allowances, bonuses, and benefits.
The GCG is standing by the COA report and has advised some of the GOCCs to clear matters up with their respective COA resident auditors, pointing out that “there is not a single final notice of disallowance covered in the COA report.”
“Hindi namin sinasabing tama sila (GOCCs). In fact, we don’t agree with them. That’s why hindi namin inapprove. They came to us saying, ‘Pwede niyo ba i-approve ito? Sorry hindi pwede because nga COA does not agree with you. Therefore if you are going to ask us today, we stand by and respect the position of COA because that is their constitutional mandate,” Villanueva told reporters.
In the case of PhilHealth, Villanueva said the GCG has not approved any increase in salaries, allowances, and benefits amounting to P1.6 billion despite a formal board resolution from PhilHealth due to President Aquino’s moratorium on increases.
COA issued a notice of disallowance on such an increase, citing the lack of presidential approval.
On PCSO, Villanueva said the GCG refused to issue a post facto clearance for the grant of P51.85 million covering weekly draw allowances and cost of living allowances for its officers and employees and P2.53 million covering salaries, salaries and allowances received by the board.
The grants, Villanueva said, were a “carry-over from the practices under the previous administration.”
He said that the GCG denied the grant of a performance based incentive for the PCSO board in 2012 for failing to comply with COA’s notice of disallowance.
But even with GCG’s disapproval, cash had been released and had already been enjoyed by the concerned boards.
Despite this, Villanueva took exception to insinuations that the GCG has ended up becoming toothless or a paper tiger, saying that GOCCs still need to get clearance for such benefits.
Failing to comply makes concerned officials liable for sanctions.
“Hindi nga kami napapalusutan e. Ang lusot nila sa amin is to get a clearance. When they don’t get a clearance, they now face both personal, criminal and administrative sanction.”
“Totoo ‘yun,” Villanueva said of the fact that the concerned GOCCs’ board members have enjoyed the cash, adding that it has no power to stop the release of the GOCCs’ cash.
“Pero kahit na anong gawin, no matter what powers [are] granted to us by Congress, there is no way that you can manage their cash… and that’s not our mandate to manage, titignan namin ‘yung cash nila, their checks before they release it, that’s not our job, really. Kasi kung ganoon ang gagawin namin, then magiging inutil ang governing board. It’s the governing board… na nakalaan sa batas na sila ang maggo-govern.”
What can be done as a way to remedy the release of unauthorized benefits is for COA to require the concerned board members to return them back.
“Ang mangyayari noon, they have to pay back, that’s right, kung unauthorized talaga,” Villanueva said.
Non-compliant board members may not be recommended for reappointment.
“’Yung allowances kasi, its not about the GOCCs, it’s about yung mga directors, rank and file employees. When it comes to the directors, ‘pag talagang we feel na talagang sobra na, they defy the law, then talagang hindi mare-reappoint ‘yan.”
The GCG has drawn up a Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) that will provide the compensation framework for GOCCs.
Villanueva said this will replace the “disparate” and various compensation frameworks of different GOCCs and determine the proper rates and mix of compensation of benefits “to ensure that from that time on, there is no overpayment.”
The CPCS is still up for presidential approval.
MORE GOCCs TO BE ABOLISHED
Meantime, more GOCCs are up for abolition as part of government’s desire to streamline the GOCC sector, according to GCG Commissioner Rainer Butalid.
From 158 GOCCs, there are now 120 currently operating.
“Meron pong mga GOCCs na hindi na akma ang kanilang ginagawa ngayon, hindi na tama at hindi na kailangan ng sistema. Gaya ng ZREC (ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation), HSDC (Human Settlements Development Corporation), PADCC (Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation) at NABCOR (National Agribusiness Corporation), ‘yung mga na-involve sa (pork barrel scam)… pati ‘yung Philippine Forest Corporation, marami na po,” Butalid said.
Butalid declined to name the GOCCs that are up for abolition for now.
“We are continuing with the streamlining of the government corporate sector. We will do so continuously and you will know that as we progress. But definitely po, marami nang na-abolish, marami nang ma-dissolve,” he said.