“Under the salary standardization system, compensation of a government official or employee is pegged to the salary grade corresponding to his position in the civil service”
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did right when he vetoed the congressional bill which would have granted excessive pay and gargantuan allowances to lawyers of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.
If that bill became a law, OGCC lawyers would have had a compensation scheme far more lucrative than that of lawyers with higher ranks in other government agencies.
As it is, OGCC lawyers are allowed to draw public funds, in addition to the large pay and benefits they are already receiving, each time they appear in trials and hearings. Many of them protract the litigation of cases to draw more allowances.
Speaking of inequity, last month, the Commission on Audit released its 2021 Report on Salaries and Allowances. It indicates how much top government officials got paid in salaries and allowances for that year.
Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno was the highest paid official for 2021. Diokno received a total of P41.811-million in salaries and allowances.
His pay for 2021 was more than double the P19.791-million he received the previous year. He was also the highest paid official in 2020.
The COA report covers 999 government agencies and corporations and their subsidiaries and instrumentalities. It also covers secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and other government officials of equivalent rank.
Many other officials of the BSP were also in the list of the best-compensated officials for 2021, namely, BSP board members Victor Bruce Tolentino (P23.292-million); Felipe Medalla (P21.83-million); Antonio Abacan (P21.709-million); Peter Favila (P21.673-million); and Anita Linda Aquino (P21.426-million).
Also in the list are BSP deputy governors Chuchi Fonacier (P20.243-million); Maria Almasara Amador (P20.175-million) and Francisco Dakila Jr. (P17.831-million), as well as BSP senior assistant governors Maria Ramona Gertrudes Santiago (P17.381-million) and Elmore Capule (P7.249-million).
Diokno’s annual salaries and allowances are far bigger than the official salary of the President of the Philippines!
This iniquitous, lopsided compensation system for top BSP officials should be explained by the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and Management. The DOF explanation may not be forthcoming because Diokno is the new Finance Secretary.
Apparently, the compensation paid to government officials and employees in previous administrations depended on political patronage.
Top officials with connections to the powers that be got gigantic salaries and allowances. Those with no connections ended up with morsels.
That inequitable system demoralized many middle-level and lower-ranking officials, and led to corruption and incompetence in the bureaucracy.
In an attempt to solve the problem, the national government set into place a law mandating the standardization of the salaries of all government officials and employees.
Under the salary standardization system, compensation of a government official or employee is pegged to the salary grade corresponding to his position in the civil service. That way, officials and employees belonging to the same salary grade received the same compensation.
Unfortunately, although salaries remained pegged to a government official’s or employee’s salary grade, the allowances received by top officials allowed them to receive practically limitless compensation through limitless allowances.
That arrangement is anomalous because an allowance is an augmentation of one’s salary, and should not be bigger than the salary it is supposed to augment in the first place.
People are asking — what is so extraordinary about the jobs of Diokno and his top officials at the BSP that entitles them to their exorbitant compensation?
The Philippines is facing serious economic problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. The war in Ukraine has forced the price of petroleum and prime commodities in the country to skyrocket. Many Filipino families today can hardly make both ends meet.
Despite the foregoing economic concerns, Diokno and his people were paid unconscionably high salaries and allowances.
Something is obviously wrong with that arrangement.
President Bongbong Marcos should investigate this shocking inequity, most especially because Diokno is now his Secretary of Finance.
Just how much will Diokno’s compensation be as Secretary of Finance? From past indications, it will probably be far more than the large amounts he already received in 2020 and 2021.
In return for the unconscionable compensation paid to Diokno as BSP governor, what did the Filipino people get?
Look at Diokno’s new P1000 polymer bank note. The three World War II Filipino heroes honored in the old P1000 paper bill are no longer in Diokno’s plastic version. Diokno’s decision to remove them is an insult to their heroism.
His P1000 bill is also very impractical to use because it doesn’t fit conventional wallets, and the slightest crumple to it may make it worthless.
The new P1000 bill is one of Diokno’s prominent “accomplishments” as BSP chief, for which he became the highest paid government official for 2020 and 2021.
President Marcos should review the compensation scheme currently enjoyed by the BSP and its related agencies, the DOF included.