5 SEC execs told to refund P92M disallowed allowance

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    FORMER Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa and four others are now facing investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged technical malversation and other criminal offenses.

    In a decision released last January 6, the Commission on Audit Commission Proper affirmed the June 14, 2016 ruling of the National Government Sector-Cluster 2 and the September 14, 2014 notice of disallowance that held the SEC officials liable in the illegal pay increases to agency personnel in 2012 totaling P92,740,109.10.

    Aside from Herbosa, also facing raps are Commissioner Eladio M. Jala, Financial Management Division director Adelaida C. Navarro-Banaria, Budget Division head Thoureth S. dela Cruz, and Accounting Division head Renato A. Santos.

    The COA ruling junked the petition for review filed by the SEC seeking reversal of the COA-NGS ruling and the lifting of the disallowance but exempted other SEC executives and employees based on good faith, noting they were passive recipients of the higher pay.

    Government auditors disallowed the pay hike by issuing an Audit Observation

    Memorandum on February 4, 2013 citing lack of approval by the Office of the President.

    The audit team also questioned the use of SEC’s retention income for the wage adjustment even if the rules require that the said funds should augment the agency’s maintenance and other operating expenses and its capital outlay.

    In its comment dated March 21, 2013, the SEC claimed that it has been assured by the Department of Budget and Management that it has made favorable recommendations to the Office of the President to approve the salary increase.

    Nonetheless, the COA issued a notice of suspension on September 27, 2013 pending thee submission of the approval from the OP and a written authority from the DBM to use SEC’s retention income for Personal Services.

    The SEC requested and was granted a 90-day extension in January 2014.

    In a letter dated March 26, 2014, Herbosa explained that the implementation of the salary increase was to give justice to SEC employees, saying she expected confirmation from the Office of the President.

    Noting that the OP approval was never submitted despite the extension of time, the COA issued a Notice of Disallowance, giving little weight to the SEC official’s invocation of good faith.