MANILA, Philippines – Recently fired government corporate counsel Rudolf Jurado said on Saturday, June 2, that unlike Solicitor General Jose Calida, he refused allowances from client state corporations.
Jurado made the statement a day after the Commission on Audit (COA) released its 2017 report on the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). State auditors said Calida received P7.46 million in excess allowances in 2017.
“I did not get and refused to accept the monthly allowances that I was supposed to receive from various client government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) when I was the Goverment Corporate Counsel from April 2017 up to May 2018 amounting to P500,000 or even more if we will include allowances coming from various water district clients, which were 350 more or less,” Jurado said in a statement.
Jurado was comparing himself to Calida who received P8.37 million in allowances in 2017. COA flagged the amount for exceeding by P7.46 million what was allowed under the agency’s guidelines.
Both the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the OSG are allowed by several laws and orders to receive allowances from the government agencies that they represent.
However, COA Circular No. 85-25-E states that allowances should not exceed 50% of the annual salary.
Calida earns P1.827 annually, while Jurado had an annual salary of P1.692 million.
Applying COA’s rule, Jurado can accept a maximum of P846,000 in allowances.
“I never accepted a single centavo of allowances/honoraria, and in fact, I refused to accept when I was offered such allowances/honoraria,” Jurado said.
Jurado’s deputy, Elpidio Vega, and 4 other OGCC officials received allowances in 2017 in excess of the 50% ceiling. In total, the 5 OGCC officials received P621,717 in excess allowances, half of that amount or P300,982 going to Vega.
At the OSG, 15 officials including Calida got a total of P10.774 million in excess allowances. Of this amount, 70% or P7.46 million went to the solicitor general.
Calida had defended the allowances, saying that the OSG law as well as several decrees and orders allowed them to receive allowances “without qualifications.”
OGCC officials used the same justification. But documents earlier obtained by Rappler showed that after the audit report, Jurado had made steps to “correct” the practice.
He issued an office order reminding officials to comply with the COA circular, and directly wrote client GOCCs asking them to refrain from remitting allowances directly to officials for proper accounting and imposition of taxes.
In his statement on Saturday, Jurado said, “In fact, I even ordered the OGCC lawyers to inform the GOCCs to remit all allowances/honoraria to the OGCC for monitoring, and for payment of the correct amount of taxes since these allowances are, in reality, additional income.
Both the OGCC and OSG allowances have been flagged for not being taxed properly, because they were not coursed through the offices but were paid directly to the officials instead.
Jurado was fired on May 28 because President Rodrigo Duterte disliked his decision to “grant a franchise” to the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco).
Jurado had already earlier explained to Duterte through a letter to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that the permit to APECO to operate within Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-controlled areas was expressly allowed by the APECO charter.
Jurado claimed that the lawyers he policed for receiving excessive allowances had tried to discredit him with corruption allegations. – Rappler.com
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