The fate of more than a hundred million pesos of incentive cash bonuses for a job well done considered “excessively granted” to government officials and employeesÂ by the Commission on Audit (COA)Â by almost all the Local Government Units (LGU’s) in Bohol will now rest on a case filed by a former village councilor of the municipality of Panglao.
Angela Arcay Valdez, a concerned resident of Barangay Doljo, Panglao accused Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero and Vice Mayor Pedro Fuertes for the release of cash incentives worthÂ Php19,500.00 for each official and employee of the Local Government of Panglao â€œover and above, and almost three-times in excess of the authorized amount of Php5,000.00 for each official and employeeâ€.
Executive Order No. 80 signed by President Benigno Aquino lll on July 20, 2012 mandates the grant of a Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) in the amount of P5,000.00 to motivate higher performance and greater accountability in the public sector.
The criminal and administrative case filed by Valdez before the Ombudsman will put to test the clashing opinions of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the LGU on the spirit and letter of the grant of cash incentives
According to the COA 2014 Annual Audit Reports (AAR’s), LGU’s in Bohol granted as much as P70,000.00 to each of their officials and employees who has “met or surpassed their performance expectations”.
Valdez in a 13 page complaint-affidavit received by the Ombudsman (Visayas) on December 22, 2015 also questioned the Â inclusion of executive assistants and consultants whose services are being classified under job orders.
The granting of cash incentives and bonuses to Job Order employees violates laws, rules ad regulations of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) and the Office of the President, according to Valdez.
However, Montero in response to the COA held her ground that “there is no cap” in the grant of PEI’s to the LGU’s as provided in DBM Circular No. 2014-13.
But the COA emphasized that there is no legal basis for the amount of more than what the EO provides.
This interpretation, according to the COA would give LGU’s unrestricted freedom to grant big amounts as long as their budget allows.
Valdez challenged the grant of the incentive bonus to four defeated party mate s of Montero who ran under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino who are under job orders.
Noel Hormachuelos, defeated vice mayoralty candidate of Montero hired as municipal administrator less than two months after the May, 2013 elections.
Danilo Reyes, hired by Montero as municipal information officer, Apolinar Fudalan appointed as Municipal Public Employment Services Officer and Juana Loreniana, also appointed by Montero as Head of the Office of the Senior Citizens’ Affairs (OSCA).
Fernando Penales grant of incentive allowance was also questioned by Valdez as he was a defeated candidate for municipal councilor and was hired as Executive Assistant for engineering and infrastructure services.
Montero, Reyes, Fudalan, Penales and Hormachuelos are facing a separate case before the Ombudsman (Visayas) for gross violation of the Constitution on the one year ban on the appointment of defeated candidates to government positions.
Valdez told the Ombudsman that Montero and Fuertes “directed, ordered and approved” the inclusion of job order employees as recipients of the PEI.
The 2014 COA Annual Audit Report called the attention of Montero to a P4,162,249.04 expenditure for PEI’s covered by a disbursement voucher detailing the recipients of the cash bonus, according to the complaint.
In her affidavit, Valdez said that she could not get hold of the copy of the voucher due to a standing memoranda issued by Montero prohibiting the release of municipal records to the public.
Pursuant to the PEI guidelines “job order workers, consultants and those hired under contracts of service” are not entitled to the cash bonus.
According to Valdez, despite COA’s order to refund the PEI, respondents did not comply in defiance of the order.
Valdez pointed out to the Ombudsman a glaring fact that job order employees have been “continuously hired and continually working for periods exceeding one year or six months.
CSC regulations require job order workers to be hired on short duration not exceeding one year and six months, according to Valdez.
It is clear, Valdez stressed that Montero, through her direct orders, she is liable for acts constituting violations of established rules and regulations.
While Fuertes, as Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Bayan allowed himself to be “persuaded, induced and influence should be “equally held liable” for authorizing the PEI expenditures, added Valdez in her complaint.
Montero and Fuertes are being charged for criminal violation of Section 3(a) and 3(e) of RA 3019 and an administrative complaint for culpable violations of the
Constitution, dishonesty, grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.Â (Chito M. Visarra)