PNCC execs' huge salaries unearthed

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2010 08:11 PM | Updated as of Oct 09 2010 01:14 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate committee on finance unearthed on Thursday more excessive salaries and bonuses at a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC).

This time, it is the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) that has come under fire.

Records presented to the Senate committee during the Department of Trade and Industry‘s budget deliberation showed that PNCC president and chief executive officer (CEO) Maria Theresa Defensor earned P7.5 million a month from the company.

The amount includes her basic salary, bonuses, allowances, and honoraria as board member of PNCC’s subsidiary units.

Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon also found out that the top 15 officials of PNCC earned P58.8 million in basic salaries.

Drilon said in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the company was no longer authorized to collect toll fees since PNCC's franchise had expired.

The PNCC continued to have a share in the toll collections but failed to remit at least P2.3 billion to the national government, he added.

"You can be criminally charged. That is a ruling of the court, done by [the] Supreme Court, not by your state-owned GOCC. Mag-ingat kayo dyan," the lawmaker warned.

P50 billion debt to gov’t

The PNCC’s unremitted toll fees are in addition to the almost P50 billion that the company owed the national government when it took over the North and South Luzon expressways in 1986.

The PNCC, in sum, owed the national government P52.3 billion, Drilon said.

Aside from their huge salaries and bonuses, PNCC’s top officials are also receiving profit shares of up to 10% before taxes.

"You owe government P50 billion and yet you have a profit share, what kind of morality do you have in PNCC?” Drilon asked. “My goodness gracious! Hindi na ba kayo nahiya sa sarili nyo?"

PNCC chief financial officer Miriam Pasetes claimed that all of the company’s salary rates, bonuses, and allowances are legal since they were approved by the state firm’s board.

She admitted during the hearing that the PNCC is now just a holding company.

Pasetes, however, refused to comment when asked to explain the board’s reason for approving of the bonuses and salaries and on why PNCC officials continued to have a profit share in the collection of fees.

Drilon urged President Benigno Aquino III to immediately replace the PNCC president and CEO and if necessary, the company’s board members.

He is studying the possibility of calling a separate hearing to investigate the issue.

Sen. Serge Osmena, meanwhile, asked the PNCC through the Department of Trade and Industry to submit all records of company’s officials, including their salary, bonuses, and allowances.