Peña: Makati payroll to use ATM system by end-2015

MANILA, Philippines – Acting Makati City Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr promised to fully implement the use of automated teller machines (ATMs) in paying the salaries of all city hall employees by the end of 2015.

In a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday, July 15, Makati’s new Public Information Office head Gilbert Delos Reyes said the ATM payroll system can be utilized to “exorcise the bureaucracy of ghost employees and protect the city’s coffers from future abuse.”

Makati has been facing allegations that it has ghost employees or those whose names appear on the payroll but who do not show up for work. (READ: Senate summons documents on Binay aide's pay)

“By modernizing government financial management processes using available technology, we safeguard the city's resources and end the system of 'envelopmental employment' since ATM accounts will only be available to legitimate city hall employees who can show sufficient proof of identification,” said Delos Reyes.

He added, “Kung walang empleyadong multo, tiyak mababawasan ang abuso (If there are no ghost employees, we will surely reduce abuses).”

According to Delos Reyes, Peña will ask the help of the city council to ensure that the Makati City Hall’s payout process will be fully automated by the end of the year, making the whole system “simpler, more efficient, and transparent.”

He said the full automation of the payroll system will not only help them fight corruption but also give relief to their employees.

“It will ease the burden of our employees who have to wait in long lines just to get their salaries,” said Delos Reyes.

Peña assumed office as acting mayor after Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr temporarily stepped down on July 1, following the Ombudsman's second preventive suspension order against him over an alleged overpriced school building.

Delos Reyes replaced former PIO head Joey Salgado, who has not reported for work since Binay left city hall. Salgado is a spokesman for Binay's father, Vice President Jejomar Binay. 

‘We can do better’

On Tuesday, July 14, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad called out Makati, the country’s premiere business district, for being the only local government unit (LGU) in Metro Manila that is still handing out envelopes during paydays.

“We understand that 3 years later, Makati City still pays around half of its employees in cash instead of through ATM. While they’ve made progress since then, we urge Acting Mayor Romulo ‘Kid’ Peña Jr to complete the transition to ATM payments,” said Abad in a press statement.

He cited the 2012 Commission on Audit Annual Audit Report on Makati, which noted that 4 disbursing officers handled more than P35.8 million that was intended for the payroll of regular and casual employees and the payroll for bonuses and incentives of teachers.

According to COA, this was disadvantageous, as cash advances granted to the disbursing officers exceeded the maximum cash accountability required.

The risk of loss or misapplication of funds may not also be remote due to the big amount of cash in the custody of the accountable officers.

Using cash envelopes also led to losses in man-hours due to city hall employees leaving their stations going to the city hall and back, the long queues they had to spend at the teller’s booth, and the amount of time needed to distribute the envelopes to 4,794 casual and 4,024 regular employees.

These led COA to recommend Makati to adopt a payroll system using ATMs. However, the 2013 COA Annual Audit Report said this recommendation was only partially implemented, as Makati was still studying the proposals of prospective banks at the time of the auditing process.

According to Abad, the national government has been “actively upgrading the country’s financial management systems and pushing for the highest degree of transparency in our practices.”

“We need local governments – especially those that manage sizeable resources like Makati – to stand with us in our drive for good governance,” he added.

Delos Reyes agreed, acknowledging the irony of Makati not having a modernized payroll system.

“I believe we can do better. The people of Makati deserve better,” he said. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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