Jul 17, 2021 @ 13:40

Tama COA! SC: Pagsanjan Water district officials ain’t entitles to bonuses

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the decision of the Commission on Audit (COA) that disallowed the disbursements for extra yearend financial assistance and anniversary bonuses of Pagsanjan Water District (Pagwad) officials in 2009 and 2010.

SC dismissed the petition of the Pagwad board of directors, led by Alex Paguio, in a 13-page decision written by Associate Justice Mario Lopez and published online recently.

“In sum, the COA Proper did not commit grave abuse of discretion in upholding the disallowance of all the additional benefits and allowances given to the Pagwad Board members for lack of legal basis,” the tribunal said.

On May 10, 2012, a Notice of Disallowance (ND) was issued by COA, disallowing Pagwad disbursements with an aggregate amount of PHP283,965.

It was found that the benefits were given to the board members without approval from the Local Water Utilities Administration, in violation of Presidential Decree No. 198, otherwise known as the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973, COA resolutions, and Department of Budget and Management regulations.

The directors of Pagwad, a government-owned and controlled corporation created in 1980, received several benefits pursuant to board resolutions — extra yearend financial assistance of PHP12,555 each, additional extra yearend financial assistance of PHP5,000, and medical allowance of PHP7,500 each in 2009; and in 2010, anniversary bonus equivalent to one-month basic salary and a productivity enhancement incentive of PHP10,000 each.

Communication allowances and loyalty awards were also granted to the board members.

When the board appealed before the COA regional office, the ND was also affirmed.

The SC said the COA is the guardian of public funds and has enough latitude “to determine, prevent, and disallow irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures of government funds”.

“In the exercise of its constitutional duty, the COA is accorded plenary discretion, and the Court generally sustains its decisions in recognition of its expertise in the laws it is entrusted to enforce,” the court ruled. (PNA)

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