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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MEMBER of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will not receive the P50,000 cash gift from the provincial government as he believes that the grant is irregular.

Third district Board Member Arthur R. Defensor Jr. said he ordered his staff to have his name deleted from the cash gift payroll.

“I will not receive any amount of this cash gift because I believe it is illegal and will be later disallowed,” Defensor said. 

Defensor said he already voiced his objection to the additional P40,000 cash gift on top of the P10,000 Productivity Enhancement Incentive mandated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Defensor was present in the initial discussion of the extra cash gift during the SP’s marathon hearing Friday last week. But he did not attend the final discussion and approval of the grant in the afternoon as he attended a speaking engagement in Guimbal town.

Defensor said it would be awkward for him to receive the grant when he opposed it in the first place.

He also described the grant as “dead on arrival” as it exceeds the 45% personal services (PS) cap of the 2009 annual budget.

“The DBM and the Commission on Audit (CoA) will disallow this grant and the employees will have to refund the amount if it overshoots the PS cap,” Defensor said.

The PS cap refers to the maximum budget for the salaries and benefits of a local government unit in a given fiscal year.

Board Member Richard Garin of the 1st district said he also believes that the extra cash gift is illegal.

Still he will receive the entire P50,000 but will keep the extra P40,000 so he can refund the amount in case the DBM and CoA disallows the grant.

“I will receive and use the P10,000 because I am entitled for it but I will keep the P40,000 just in case we are required to refund the amount. I will give the P10,000 to my constituents,” Garin said.

Garin was on leave when the SP deliberated and approved the extra cash gift last week.

Other SP members who were not present during the approval of the grant were Jesus “JR” Salcedo and Jeneda Salcedo.

The DBM had advised the provincial government to wait for the agency’s review of the appropriation ordinance granting the extra cash gift.

But Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. said they will take the risk and release the money to the employees so they can enjoy a bountiful holiday amidst the economic crunch.

The provincial accounting and treasurer’s office are working overtime to release the cash gift before Christmas break this week.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo provincial board unanimously approved Thursday the P69-million supplemental budget which will entitle Capitol workers to an extra P40,000 cash gift on top of their regular P10,000 Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI).

Earlier, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the P36-million budget augmentation where the P10,000 PEI will be sourced. The additional budget was obtained from savings culled from unfilled plantilla positions in the Capitol.

Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. then submitted the supplemental budget to increase the PEI by P40,000.

In sum, the 2,200 capitol workers will receive P50,000 each for their PEI or popularly known as cash gift.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had advised the provincial government to wait for its review of the augmentation and supplemental budget before releasing the cash gift.

Alfonso Bedonia, DBM assistant regional director, said they need to review the additional allocation to find out if the Capitol did not exceed the budgetary cap on personal services (PS).

The personal services (PS) cap refers to the maximum salaries and benefits for employees of a local government unit (LGU).

The Local Government Code provides that total appropriations, whether annual or supplemental, for personal services of an LGU for one fiscal year shall not exceed 45% in the case of 1st to 3rd class LGUs and 55% in the case of 4th class or lower class LGUs.

DBM’s Budget Circular 2009-5 issued this week provided the guidelines for the release of the PEI/cash gift to government employees.

Citing Administrative Order No. 276, the DBM circular said “government employees in the Executive Branch, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs), whether hired on permanent, temporary, casual, or contractual basis, are entitled to receive a one-time grant of a maximum of P10,000 each” as long as they have not received any additional year-end benefit in Fiscal Year 2009 over and above the benefit authorized under Republic Act 6686, as amended by RA 8441.

Bedonia said if the Capitol exceeded its PS cap due to the extra cash gift, they will disallow the allocation and require the recipients to refund the excess benefit.

Bedonia said LGUs must seek clearance from the Office of the President if they intend to hand out cash gifts in excess of what is stipulated in the DBM circular.

During their session yesterday, members of the provincial board also raised the concerns on the legal problems posed by the extra cash gift.

Vice Governor Rolex T. Suplico said they decided to approve the P50,000 cash gift to give capitol employees a bright Christmas.

The P50,000 cash gift will be released Monday next week.

Tupas earlier said he will take the risk of any disallowance in handing out the extra cash gift.

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