TRC execs told to refund P16M illegal cash incentives

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    THE Commission on Audit (COA) has affirmed the notice of disallowance issued against the P16.15 million unauthorized extra pay approved by the now-defunct Technology Resource Center (TRC) in 2012.

    COA Chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc upheld the findings of the audit team and the COA Corporate Government Sector-Cluster 6 which held liable former TRC director general Dennis Cunanan, deputy director general Glenn B. Santos, Corporate Support Services Group general manager Luzvimindo David, Accounting Division chief Marivic Jover, Finance Planning Management Services Division chief Miguel Geronimo Jr., and department manager Eduardo Suarez.

    The P16.15 million was paid out to officials and employees as 40% Omnibus Incentive Benefit charged against the Miscellaneous Services account under the TRC’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

    Auditors said the extra pay had no legal basis as it was earlier disapproved by the Department of Budget and Management on the ground that such compensation was already included in the basic salary of TC personnel.

    “As held by the Supreme Court in the case of Silang et. al. vs. COA, the approving officers and each employee who received the disallowed benefit are obligated, jointly and severally, to refund the amount so received,” the COA Commission Proper said.

    However, it ruled that TRC rank and file employees who had no participation in processing and approving the extra compensation are exempt from such liability.

    “By way of exception, passive recipients or payees of disallowed salaries, emoluments, benefits, and other allowances need not refund such disallowed amounts if they received the same in good faith,” it added.

    Considering that the incentive was based on the Board of Trustees Resolution No. 2000-455, the COA instructed the audit team to verify the extent of the board’s participation and to include them among those held liable if warranted.

    The TRC was abolished in 2014 by then president Benigno S. Aquino III following the finding of the COA that the agency acted as conduit when its officials participated in the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

    Cunanan and Jover are among agency officials who are now facing multiple criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan in relation to alleged fraudulent transactions involving PDAF.