CoA report: Calida, other OSG lawyers received P10.8 million in excessive allowances

Font Size

Solicitor-General Jose Calida
Solicitor General Jose Calida answers questions from the media during a briefing at the Malacañan Palace on January 19, 2016. — PHILSTAR/KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) has flagged P10.8 million in excessive allowances received by Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida and 14 other lawyers of the Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG) in a 2017 report.

“The honoraria/allowances paid to some OSG officials for legal services and advices rendered to client agencies had exceeded the fifty percent of the annual basic salary by ₱10,774,283.92 contrary to Item 4 of COA Circular No. 85-25-E dated April 25 1985,” CoA said, adding:

“Likewise, the directive of OSG Office Order No. D-188 series of 2009 dated September 9, 2009 requiring OSG lawyers to report to the Financial Management Service (FMS), OSG, the said honoraria/allowances directly received from client agencies were not faithfully adhered to; thus, the benefits received were not properly monitored for taxation purposes.”

According to the report, Mr. Calida had an annual salary of P1,828 million, which entitled him to P913,950 in allowances. Instead, Mr. Calida received an excess of P7.46 million.

Circular 85-25-E, as cited by CoA, said in part that “payment of service and/or incentive fees, remuneration, honoraria and all other extra compensation paid to government officials and employees…shall not exceed 50 percent of annual salary.”

Less Mr. Calida’s allowances, the difference left P3.31 million received by 14 other lawyers of the OSG as also named in the report.

CoA also cited “excessive claims for local and foreign travel allowances totaling ₱53,796.00 and ₱78,096.64” under the OSG.

On the other hand, CoA also found that the take home pay of seven employees of the OSG “were below the mandated minimum amount of P4,000.00.”

This is “due to accommodation for payroll deduction of employee obligations in violation of Section 47 of the General Provisions of Republic Act No. 10924, General Appropriations Act for FY 2017, thus, defeating the general intent of the law to boost employees’ morale and self-esteem in order to promote efficiency and effectiveness in government service,” CoA said.

It was also found that “(t)he budget allocated for the Senior Citizens (SCs) and Persons with Disability (PWDs) was only .04 percent way below the minimum requirement of 1 percent of the agency’s budget of ₱803,613,000.00 while expending a total of only ₱333,463.00.”

CoA cited Section 31 of the General Appropriations Act of 2017, which “requires all agencies of the government shall formulate plans, programs and projects intended to address the concerns of SCs and PWDs, insofar as it relates to their mandated functions, and integrate the same in their regular activities.” — Gillian M. Cortez