Calida is first SolGen in years to be among 5 highest paid in government

Lian Buan
Calida is first SolGen in years to be among 5 highest paid in government
The Solicitor General places 4th on the list with P10.9 million worth of salaries and allowances, bulk of which have been flagged as excessive by state auditors

MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Jose Calida is the 4th highest paid national government agency official for 2017, a spot usually occupied by officials in the financial sector and diplomats.

According to the 2017 Report on Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) released by the Commission on Audit (COA) on Wednesday, June 27, Calida’s P10.917 million worth of salaries and allowances is the 4th highest amount paid to officials that year.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr is the highest paid with P14.9 million, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo is second with P13.5 million, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) president Cecilia Borromeo is 3rd with P12.46 million.

Officials from the financial sector, like the BSP, DBP, and sometimes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), usually occupy the top spots on the list. In some years, diplomats make it to the top 10. Financial officers receive allowances and incentives as members of numerous boards, while diplomats get a handsome living allowance in their posts abroad, among others.

Solicitors general do not usually make that list. Since 2009 – which is as far back as ROSAs go in COA’s online database – solicitors general did not make it to the top 10.

ROSAs do not render opinions on the amounts received by officials, unless there is a separate report.

In Calida’s case, COA had earlier said that bulk of the allowances received by the solicitor general is considered “in excess.” For 2017, Calida received his P1.8 million yearly salary, and P8.37 million in allowances. 

COA insists that allowances should not exceed 50% of the salary, therefore ruling that P7.46 million of Calida’s allowances are in excess, and ordering him to refund it. Calida is disputing the COA order, saying there is no imposed limit on allowances.

Calida is also facing scrutiny over his family-owned security firm which has bagged government contracts worth at least P261.39 million since he became solicitor general.

In 2015, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay got as high as No. 23 on the list. Beyond that, solicitors general were below top 100.

BSP’s Espenilla earned P7.1 million in basic salary, P4.8 million in bonuses and incentives, and P2.4 million in allowances.

BSP’s Guinigundo earned P6.6 million in basic salary, P4.5 million in bonuses and incentives, and P1.9 million in allowances.

DBP’s Borromeo earned P8.8 million in basic salary, while the rest were allowances and incentives. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.