COA flags PAGCOR officials' allowances, 18-karat gold rings

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2018 02:00 PM | Updated as of Jul 18 2018 11:06 PM

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MANILA - The Commission on Audit has flagged the excesses of officials and employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

In the 2017 audit report on PAGCOR, government auditors questioned the P13.020 million worth of 18 karat gold memento rings for 20-year loyalty awardees, as well as cash awards amounting to P12.495 million.

While the awards are in PAGCOR’s employee’s handbook, the COA said the amounts were in violation of a circular issued in 2013 which provides for a maximum award of P10,000 for loyalty awardees.

PAGCOR, currently headed by Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo, however stood its ground and turned to the Office of the President for clarification. 

“We recommended and management agreed to seek clarification/approval from the Office of the President on the grant of benefits particularly the loyalty awards to its PAGCOR employees,” the COA said. 

Government auditors also questioned the P643,000 cash advances made by PAGCOR for its Circle of Extra-Ordinaire Awards, which did not have the required approval from the Civil Service Commission.

COA said the list of CEO awardees should be submitted first to the CSC but PAGCOR management insisted that their board of directors had the authority to set personnel management policies, under Presidential Decree No. 1869 or the PAGCOR charter.

Government auditors also questioned the P58.334 million Representation and Transportation Allowance granted to officers as well as car plans amounting to P29.167 million which are supposedly not allowed under the General Appropriations Act of 2017.

Under the 2017 GAA, government officials such as department secretaries can receive a total of P28,000 RATA per month but it was noted that the Chairman and CEO received as high as P110,000.

Car plans were also excessive as those who availed were already claiming transportation allowance, also a violation of the 2017 GAA.

The interchangeability of car plans and housing benefits, amounting to P125.954 million in 2016 and P121.289 million in 2017, were also questioned by the COA as they were based only on a Board of Directors resolution and without clear and express Presidential approval. 

The officials were entitled to at least 950,00 loan, with a maximum amount of P3.5 million for the Chairman and CEO.

COA and PAGCOR agreed that a post-facto Presidential approval will be sought first to avoid audit suspensions or disallowance.

“We recommended and management agreed to seek post facto approval from the Office of the President and ensure that officers who have availed of the car plan will no longer claim transportation allowance to avoid possible audit suspension and/or disallowance,” the COA said. 

The P3.113 million Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) of Casino Filipino Davao officers and employees was also questioned, in addition to their P9.977 Personal Economic Relief Allowance (PERA), resulting in double compensation.

PAGCOR management however said the Government Corporate Counsel approved their total compensation package, which includes both COLA and PERA, in 2011 but the COA still insisted that the grant of both allowances was tantamount to double compensation.

It also turned out that PAGCOR was not only generous to its employees, but to politicians as well. 

PAGCOR released 5,050 sets of backpacks with a total amount of P2.557 million directly to politicians or their representatives, with no assurance of receipt by the targeted beneficiaries as there were no available documents.

“Granting also that the intended beneficiaries received the items, the practice however suggests an impression to the beneficiaries that such donations were endowed by the politicians themselves, and not by PAGCOR,” the COA said. 

The generosity of PAGCOR however did not extend to the national government as well as to athletes.

Government auditors said PAGCOR had an under remittance to the Bureau of Treasury amounting to P21.186 billion because it refused to share 50% of its earnings with the national government.

The COA said the computation should be based on “aggregate gross earning” but PAGCOR insisted on basing its income from gaming operations only.

“If it is impractical due to huge amount involved as settlement would result to the abrupt depletion of PAGCOR earnings, we further recommend that management request for the revision or repeal of the law through legislative process specifically on the basis of the 50% government share to conform to the changing times and complement with the level of PAGCOR earnings."

The computation of the 5 percent share of the Philippine Sports Commission was also not based on the gross income of PAGCOR, resulting to under remittance of P1.631 billion.