Perks, paychecks of GOCC execs (Part 1)

(CNN Philippines) — Aida is a retiree who gets around P16,800 a year in pension from the Social Security System (SSS).

This amount lets her get by now that she's jobless after working for 16 years.

She believes that, before her retirement, there were a lot benefits for employees. But because she was young she didn't pay attention to them because their amounts were small.

On the other hand, SSS President Emilio de Quiros gets P7 million a years in combined annual salary, allowance, and benefits. In contrast, Aida's salary is a mere drop in the bucket.

SSS is a government corporation that gives social security benefits to private sector employees.

The equivalent corporation for government workers is the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Ordinary workers like Aida are asking: Why can't there be more money to improve services when there's more than enough to give big salaries and perks to officials?

Malacañan is doing its part by limiting the perks and benefits of government owned or controlled corporations (GOCC).

In 2011, President Benigno Aquino III issued an executive order that created the Governance Commission on GOCCs (GOGs) correct the situation.

But have there been changes in the last three years?

Director Paolo Salvosa, GOG spokesperson, pointed out that it's only recently people have started discussing the issue.

Compared to companies, GOCCs get a comparatively large package of perks and benefits, he said.

The 2013 COA Report on Salaries and Allowances shows there are still irregular allowances and benefits.

Some items appear too personal and unusual such as:

  • communication allowance
  • combat pay
  • cultural clothing
  • family allowance
  • high roller allowance
  • pet expense

It's no different for bonuses, which include such items as:

  • child's birthday gift
  • car plan
  • flying pay
  • housing fund
  • recording minutes

Other expense items are also uncommon, such as:

  • All Saints' Day financial assistance
  • grocery
  • food and rice allowance
  • Filipiniana
  • year-end grocery allowance

Based on the COA list, the top six principal officers of GOCCs who received from P8 million to P12 million in 2013 were:

  • Robert Vergara of GSIS: P12,088,476.14
  • Gilda E. Pico of Land Bank of the Philippines: P10,292,930.00
  • Amando M. Tetangco Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas: P9,998,692.52
  • Darlene Marie B. Berberabe of the Home Development Mutual Fund: P9,385,050.11
  • Reynaldo C. Liwanag of the Angles City Water District: 8,830,539.60
  • Cristino L. Naguiat Jr. of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.: P8,108,336.58

Others received between P7 million and P8 million also in 2013:

  • Jorge V. Sarmiento of PAGCOR: P7,886,836.58
  • Diwa C. Guinigundo of BSP: P7,582,956.68
  • Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. of BSP: P7,502,667.13
  • Vicente S. Aquino of BSP: P7,414,514.78
  • Arnel Paciano D. Casanova of the Bases Conversion Development Authority: P7,135,314.05
  • Teresita J. Herobsa of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): P7,134,846.00
  • Rabboni Francis B. Arjonillo of LBP: P7,132,035.00
  • Emilio S. de Quiros of SSS: P7,080,210.06
  • Luis F. Sison of the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC): P7,075,014.86

Ordinary employees are questioning the pay and benefits.

Rudelito Tirado Jr., president of the Development Bank of the Philippines Employees Union (DBPED), says one senior officer of DBP gets a salary of more than P300,000.

"So during our merit increase or the productivity-based bonus, the PBB, ang mga  rank-and-file employees ay nakaka-receive ng very minimal amount."

COA says officials in 23 GOCCs, led by the Local Water Works Utility Administration (LWWUA), got more than P815 million in disallowed allowances and benefits.

COA says the money should be returned to the government.

But the GCG is defending the perks.

Director Salvosa, the GCC spokesman, says the basis for the amount of the salaries, perks, and benefits are patterned after what officials in private sector companies are getting.

Ordinary employees want to be heard, according to Amorsolo Competente, chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa GOCCs at GFIs (KMGGFI).

And they have the right to ask questions about the issue since these funds come from their contributions and taxes.