CITY OF NAGA, BICOL REGION (BicolToday.com/16-April-2013) – While government employees are seeking higher salaries, Senator Chiz Escudero blew the whistle on some government agencies which took advantage of legal loopholes by granting for themselves excessive salaries and benefits. But, the Senator keep mum over reports of excessive benefits enjoyed by Congressmen and Senators.
The Senator reminded public servants not to backslide from the straight path policy of President Benigno Aquino III amid results of Commission on Audit (CoA) audits finding excessive allowances and benefits persisted among agencies and state firms.
Escudero cited a CoA report showing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) continuing to grant allowances and benefits to their officers and employees either in violation of the law or without authority from President Aquino.
“There must be no let-up in the campaign for good governance and anti-corruption. The ‘daang matuwid’ policy of the President is in full effect, there is no room for backsliding,” Escudero said.
The CoA report on MWSS for 2011 stated that various allowances and benefits on that year worth P6.39 million was P5.88 million more than what was allowed in its operating budget.
Escudero said that it appears the current officials of both agencies are taking a U-turn back to the crooked path with their requests for a status quo on the excessive perks their officials and employees are enjoying.
He enjoined the CoA to enforce its mandate of reporting irregularities among state agencies and corporation and be aggressive in recommending appropriate actions to halt such irregularities.
Escudero said that CoA also recently reported that officials and employees of the Department of Energy (DOE) were also found to have received more than P60.3 million in unauthorized yearend financial benefits and subsidies in 2010 and 2011.
The CoA said Malacañang did not authorize the release of the money for year-end benefits and food and utility subsidy. The CoA has asked the DOE personnel to refund the P78,000 they each received.
“We should move forward towards changing the culture in government and the way government conducts its business. It cannot be business as usual anymore,” Escudero said.
However, Senator Escudero did not touch on the sensitive issue regarding excessive allowances, the whims and caprices of fellow Senators and Congressmen.
The Aquino administration’s subsidies to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) doubled in January to February this year, according to data from the Bureau of the Treasury’s (BTr) Statistical Data Analysis Division (SDAD).
BTr data posted on its web site showed state subsidies to GOCCs totaled P3.07 billion n the first two months of 2013. A total of P1.53 billion in subsidies was released during the same period last year.
The subsidies amounted to P244 million and P2.82 billion in January and February this year, respectively.
Escudero recalled that in the first State of the Nation Address of President Aquino, he had condemned the misuse of government funds through the excessive granting of perks and incentives among state agencies and firms which he said was part of the crooked path where “for a long time, our country lost its way.”
“Let’s not forget that just three years ago, we were up in arms over these excessive perks. We should not forget so easily, otherwise we run the risk of repeating these mistakes simply because we let our guard down,” Escudero said. [Bicoltoday.com]