MANILA — A lawmaker has filed a measure prohibiting government entities including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) and the local government units (LGUs) from allocating funds for the additional compensation, allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments to Commission on Audit (COA) officials and personnel assigned in their respective offices.
Rep. Erlpe John M. Amante (2nd District, Agusan del Norte) filed House Bill 5352 to ensure the independence, morality and integrity of the Commission on Audit.
“We must ensure concrete safeguards in the government spending of public funds,” Amante said.
Amante cited the declared policy of the State that in order to carry out the constitutional mandate of the COA and to preserve the independence, morality and integrity of the Commission, its officials and personnel must consciously isolate themselves with the enticing financial temptations given to them by other government entities including government-owned and controlled corporations and the local government units through allocation of funds for their additional compensation, allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments for their services rendered in line with the performance of their constitutional mandate.
According to Amante, Section 18 of Republic Act No. 6758 or the “Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989” provides that COA officials and personnel are prohibited from receiving salaries, honoraria, bonuses, allowances or other emoluments form any government entity, LGU and GOCCs and government financial institutions (GFIs), except those compensation paid directly by the COA out of its appropriations and contributions.
Amante said when the Local Government Code of 1991 was enacted, it created confusion whether the provision of LGC particularly authorizing the LGUs, subject to the condition that if their local finances allow, automatically and impliedly repeal the provision of RA 6758 on the prohibition on the COA officials and personnel to receive additional compensation from the LGUs.
The young lawmaker, who is vice-chairperson of the House Committees on Agrarian Reform, Information and Communications Technology, Natural Resources and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Development, cited a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Villarena vs. COA, GR No. 145383-84 dated August 6, 2003 which states that the apparent inconsistency with the two laws should be reconciled by regarding the prohibition stated in Republic Act No. 6758 as an exception or limitation to the authority of local legislative bodies under Republic Act No. 7160.
“Though there are existing ruling of the High Court and memorandum orders form the COA regarding this matter, there are still LGUs and resident COA Auditors who are continuing this practice,” Amante said.
Amante disclosed that there are still resident COA auditors who present and defend their annual allocation from the LGU before the Sanggunian for the inclusion in their annual LGU budget.
“Through this, we can never discount and remove in the mind of our people that there are possibilities that they may be influenced by their benefactor LGU,” Amante stressed.
Under the measure to be known as the “Anti-Patronage in State Auditing Act of 2015,” it is unlawful and illegal for the officials and personnel of COA, especially those who are stationed in or assigned in the government entities including government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions or local government units (LGUs) to receive all forms of additional compensation, allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments for the services rendered in performing their official functions.
It shall also be prohibited for any government entities including GOCCs and the LGUs to allocate funds from their respective office budget and appropriations for the additional compensation, allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments for services rendered as resident COA auditors.
The bill provides a penalty of 12 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office for any official and personnel of COA who violates the provision of this Act. The violator shall likewise refund all those previously received additional compensation, allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments.
The COA in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Governance Commission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations are mandated to issue the rules and regulations.