by Rimaliza A. Opiña
The Commission on Audit has ordered past and incumbent city officials, some department heads and some employees to return the productivity incentive allowance granted to officials and employees of the Burnham Park Management Authority, Baguio Convention Center, and Asin Hydro plants.
In a notice served to the mayor’s office last Feb. 15, the COA said the total amount of P1,089,478.95 has to be returned to the city government’s coffers, otherwise, it would order withholding the salaries or other benefits due the concerned city officials. The COA said its order is final and executory, there being no appeal filed by concerned city officials since 2014.
The COA said Section 7 of Administrative Order 161 s. 1994 and the Salary Standardization Law prohibits a separate productivity and performance incentive award to government departments, agencies, governing boards, offices, government owned and controlled corporations, government financial institutions, and local government units. Also, the incentive is not enumerated in the Civil Service Commission’s Praise (Programs on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence) program.
City Accountant Antonio Tabin said the COA’s directive should not be implemented yet pending the City Legal Office submission of an appeal to the COA. He also said the city has previously appealed the COA’s memo so they will have to submit these anew to the audit team.
He said the basis of the city government in granting the incentive is a Department of Budget and Management circular stating that LGUs may grant an incentive higher than the P5,000 being given to national government agencies provided that the source of funds is from savings and was appropriated by the sanggunian.
Tabin said the city government followed the procedure.
Aside from the employees, the officials who are ordered to return the amount are Mayor Mauricio Domogan, members of the Local Finance Committee composed of Tabin, Budget Officer Leticia Clemente, retired City Treasurer Alicia Onoza, the late vice mayor Daniel Fariñas, then councilor, now Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, former councilors Nicasio Aliping Jr., Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Richard Cariño, Fred Bagbagen, Philian Louise Weygan-Allan, Perlita Chan Rondez, Nicasio Palaganas, incumbent councilors Elmer Datuin, Peter Fianza, and Joel Alangsab.
The department heads and city officials were included in the order for authorizing the release of the incentive.