COA flags P345-M PAGCOR allowances, bonuses

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged a total of P345.825 million worth of bonuses or allowances released to officials and employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), for either being in excess or in violation of rules.

COA's findings in its 2017 audit report on PAGCOR also include releases from 2016, such as P125.954 million for car plans and housing benefits of PAGCOR officials.

The car plans were granted to officials who also received transportation allowances, said COA.

President Rodrigo Duterte is against excessive allowances and bonuses in government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) like PAGCOR. In 2017, Duterte even scrapped an Aquino-time executive order on GOCC salaries.

Car and housing

Top officials of PAGCOR received P8.334 million in representation and transport (RATA) allowance in 2017, which COA said exceeded allowable rates.

RATA is allowed under the General Appropriations Act (GAA). Under the 2017 GAA, RATA rates were fixed so that a department secretary and his equivalent can receive a maximum monthly RATA of P28,000. 

Yet, for PAGCOR’s monthly rate, Chairperson and CEO Andrea Domingo received P110,000 RATA per month; President and COO Alfredo Lim, P90,000; general managers, P75,000 each; branch managers, P70,000; Senior Vice President Edwin Bermudez and the chiefs of staff, P48,500; vice presidents, P27,500; assistant vice presidents, P13,500.

COA also noticed that that the same officers who received RATA also received car plan benefits. 

"[Transportation Allowance] amounting to P29.167 million was granted to the same officers who availed the Car Plan of PAGCOR," said COA.

This is contrary to the GAA which states that "transportation allowance, whether in full or partial amounts, shall not be granted to officials who are assigned or actually using government motor transportation."

COA also flagged the P125.954 million in car plan and housing benefits given to PAGCOR officers in 2016, and another round worth P121.289 million in 2017.

COA said the grants were “without clear and express Presidential approval but were based only on the approved Resolution of the Board of Directors (BOD).”

Auditors said PAGCOR should seek a post-facto approval from the Office of the President (OP) on their RATA and car and housing benefits, as these releases could potentially be subjects of audit suspension or disallowance.

Davao officials

In their report, state auditors also questioned the "double compensation" of officers and employees in PAGCOR's Casino Filipino-Davao.

"The PAGCOR CF-Davao officers and employees were granted Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) totaling P3.113 million during CY 2017 contrary to Section 12 of RA No. 6758 in addition to the P9.977 million Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) resulting in double compensation," the COA report said.

COA cited Section 2, Rule XVIII of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 that no elective or appointive public officer or employee shall receive additional, double, or indirect compensation, unless specifically authorized by law.

COA said that PERA should have replaced COLA as a type of additional compensation to officers of PAGCOR. In its reply to COA, PAGCOR said it had a post-facto approval from the Governance Commission for GOCCs.

But auditors insisted that “the grant of COLA on top of the PERA is tantamount to double compensation.”

'Excessive' cash awards

COA also flagged excessive cash awards.

In 2017, PAGCOR gave cash and gold rings to loyalty awardees. The agency spent a total of P25.5 million for the cash awards and for the purchase of 18-karat gold memento rings.

COA said that pursuant to a 2013 audit circular, employees who have rendered 5 years in service are not entitled to a cash bonus, yet they were given P5,000 each. The 18-karat gold rings plus cash equivalent of one month basic pay given to employees who have rendered 20 years of service are also not allowed under the audit circular. 

PAGCOR spent P13.020 million to buy 18-karat, 10-gram gold memento rings given to 20-year awardees, which is more than what it spent for the cash awards of all employees.

Auditors said PAGCOR should seek clarification from OP on the grant of benefits to loyalty awardees.

PAGCOR also spent P643,000 for its Circle of Extra-Ordinaire (CEO) awards, an employee incentive scheme with cash grants. However, COA said the grants were not submitted to the Civil Service Commission for review and approval, contrary to CSC rules.

In response, PAGCOR cited a 2008 OP memorandum which states that the agency has the legal authority to determine its own management policies.

But COA said PAGCOR is covered by the CSC Law pursuant to the 1987 Constitution. – Rappler.com

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.

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