COA to MWSS employees: Return P73M in bonuses, allowances
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) affirmed an earlier decision declaring as valid the notice of disallowance for P73 million worth of allowances and fringe benefits given to employees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 2009.
In a decision dated December 5, 2016 and released to media on Monday, January 9, COA upheld the 2011 ruling of its Corporate Government Sector (CGS)-B saying that the payment of bonuses and allowances to officials, employees, and Board of Trustees (BOT) members was unlawful.
The payments amounting to P73,001,278.32 were made in 2009, and in that same year, COA disallowed the payments for violating several laws and decrees.
For one, state auditors said P23 million worth of anniversary bonuses, mid-year, and year-end financial assistance weren't approved by the President.
P45.5 million worth of family day/week allowances, scholarships, corporate Christmas packages, and other incentives were also given to employees despite a law barring such perks. The National Water Crisis Act of 1995 requires the MWSS to implement cost-cutting measures, including the reduction of salaries and benefits.
There were also "miscalculated" leave credits worth P1.1 million which were paid in excess of the 30-day maximum limit.
Board of Trustees members were also given P686,000 in "traditional anniversary bonuses" even though "they are not salaried employees and therefore not entitled to receive benefits unless expressly provided by law."
The other payments were found to be in violation of the MWSS' own charter.
In 2011, the MWSS appealed the disallowances but admitted it paid an excess of P200,000 in corporate Christmas packages, citing mathematical error.
In the December 5 decision, COA denied the petition and ordered all employees to return the money they received.
COA said that apart from the specific violations, the "authority to grant allowances and benefits had been modified if not repealed by RA No. 6758 or the Salary Standardization Law (SSL)."
Rappler is still trying to reach the MWSS for comment. – Rappler.com