COA to BSP's Tetangco: Return excess allowance
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr and two other executives to return to the national treasury P582,500 in excess allowances and per diems that they received from January 10 to February 2011.
In a decision promulgated on February 16 and released to media on Wednesday, March 1, COA only partially granted the petition filed by the BSP officials that sought to overturn the earlier notice of disallowance issued by the commission.
From 2010 to 2011, Tetangco, Deputy Governors Armando Suratos and Juan de Zuñiga were paid per diems, representation allowances and bonuses worth P618,500 as members of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Philippine International Convention Center Incorporated or PICCI.
PICCI was created by the BSP so it could have a conference center suitable for conferences and meetings. As such, the BSP Governor and Deputy Governors are ex-officio members of the board of directors.
In 2012, COA issued a notice of disallowance to Tetangco, Suratos, and De Zuñiga saying that the payments were considered double compensation.
Double compensation is prohibited under Section 8, Article IX-B of the Constitution. The law says an officer cannot be given two sets of compensation for two different offices held by the same officer.
An executive order issued by former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III also prohibits ex-officio board members to receive additional compensations.
According to data from the COA, Tetangco attended 10 meetings and received a total per diem of P84,000, Suratos received P273,000 per diem for 22 meetings, and De Zuñiga received P37,000 per diem for 4 meetings.
Citing the corporation law, COA said “directors shall not receive any compensations except for reasonable per diems.” The “reasonable” amount, COA said, is only P1,000 for every meeting attended as set in a Supreme Court ruling.
Because COA recognized the P1,000 allowance per meeting, from a total of P394,000 per diem they received for their meetings, the BSP officials would only need to return P358,000.
“This commission disfavors the unregulated increase in per diems granted for every attendance in meeting of each member of the BOD of PCCI. There is no clear showing of a valid authority for petitioners to receive per diem from a measly amount of P1,000 to an increased amount of P6,000 and now P9,500,” said the COA.
Tetangco and his deputy governors appealed the notice of disallowance, saying the by-laws of the PCCI authorized the allowances and per diems. They also argued that the money was paid and received in good faith.
COA upheld its earlier ruling that the P224,500 worth of representation allowances and bonuses were illegal because there is no law that authorizes the payment.
“Appellants’ claim of good faith cannot bar the government from recovering what was unduly given. Otherwise, it would constitute unjust enrichment,” COA said in its decision.
The COA has ordered Tetangco to return P229,000, Suratos P302,112, and De Zuñiga P51,387.
In a text message sent to reporters, Tetangco said: "We are not yet in receipt of the notice of the COA decision. But based on the news articles, we will check the facts first."
The multi-awarded Tetangco is serving his second term which would end in July. BSP governors are only allowed one reappointment but President Rodrigo Duterte had previously said he wants to amend the BSP charter to allow Tetangco to serve a third term.
In February, however, Duterte's party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) endorsed to the President EastWest Bank's Antonio Moncupa Jr to become the next governor of the BSP. – Rappler.com