COA orders ex-PCGG heads to return P8 million in benefits paid to employees

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2019 06:10 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has held former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) officials liable for the illegal disbursement of financial benefits totaling P8.343 million to officials and employees of the agency tasked to recover billions of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

The COA has affirmed an earlier notice of disallowance issued by the COA National Government Sector Cluster 4 on the payment of calamity assistance, gift checks, goodwill incentives and collective negotiation agreement incentives to PCGG officials and employees in 2012 and 2013.

In the decision signed by COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc promulgated on July 4, the audit agency denied the petition for review of then PCGG acting chairman Richard Amurao and commissioner Vicente Gengos, as well as other officials namely Maria Luisa Narvadez and Efren Bracero.

The COA proper reiterated that the benefits given to officials and employees were not approved by the Office of the President and did not conform with the Department of Budget and Management guidelines on the granting of benefits.

“As to the merits, this commission finds the payments of the benefits/incentives without legal basis,” the COA proper said.

The former PCGG officials asserted that the granting of benefits were done in good faith and that their agency has contributed billions of pesos to government coffers.

“If these assertions are true, it only shows that the PCGG is doing its mandate to recover ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates,” the COA proper said.

“However, while this commission recognizes these valuable accomplishments of PCGG, these cannot be the basis for payments of the disallowed benefits.”

COA also stressed in the decision that only the officials, and not those who received the benefits, are held liable and should return the disallowed amount to the government.

Among those who received benefits were then PCGG chairman Jose Andres Bautista, who submitted an appeal memorandum in behalf of other officials and employees.

“The payees who received the disallowed benefits need not refund the same, while the rest of the persons named liable for the disallowances, particularly those who signed the PCGG resolutions and the officers who approved or certified the disbursement vouchers/payrolls, shall remain liable therefor,” the COA proper said.