BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said that he will not allow concerned government agencies and independent constitutional bodies to infringe into the local autonomy of local governments pursuant to the explicit provisions of the Local Government code and related issuances by government agencies.
The local chief executive said that he received several letters from retiring city officials and employees questioning the withholding of a portion of their retirements benefits representing the disallowed bonuses that they previously received.
“We will continue to fight the issue out until we reach the Supreme Court (SC) because the previous decision of the Commission on Audit (COA) disallowing the bonuses granted by the city government to its officials and employees in 2013 and 2014 is a direct affront to the local autonomy of local government units, considering that such autonomy has been prescribed by pertinent laws, rules and regulations,” Domogan stressed.
The consolidated appeal of the city government regarding the disallowance made by the city and regional offices of the COA on the bonuses received by the officials and employees of the city in 203 and 2014 is now pending decision by the Commission en banc.
He informed city officials and employees that the local government will continue to exhaust available legal and administrative remedies to ventilate the issue on local fiscal autonomy as the release of additional bonuses to government workers have been covered by appropriate circulars from the budget department explicitly providing that the grant of additional compensation shall be subject to availability of funds from the concerned local government.
According to him, the disallowed bonuses had been received by government workers for over a decade now but it is unfortunate that it is only now that the COA comes out with a ruling declaring that such compensation to officials and employees are disallowed because the compensations are allegedly excessive and beyond the limit set by the budget department.
Despite the passage of pertinent ordinances backed up by certificates of availability of funds from the local finance committee covering the grant of additional compensation for city officials and employees in 2013 and 2014, the COA still ruled against the grant of such compensation equivalent to one month salary plus an additional P20,000 for every official and employee.
Domogan urged officials and employees to understand the current predicament of the city government relative to the said issued where it has to fight it out in order to dispute the claim of the COA that the previously granted compensations are beyond the prescribed authorized amount, saying that the SC has to rule on the matter as there are numerous jurisprudence upholding local autonomy in the disbursements of public funds.
He explained that the city legal office will take the necessary steps in order to get a favourable ruling in favour of the city so that the officials and employees will be able to receive their 2015 additional compensation that was put on hold because of such disallowance rulings of the COA on additional bonuses on said years.
By Dexter A. See