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Marcos admin dealt with third resignation as Calida steps down from COA

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Marcos admin dealt with third resignation as Calida steps down from COA
Solicitor General Jose Calida defended the Philippine government officials before the Supreme Court during the oral arguments on petitions challenging the Duterte administration's drug war.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — Jose Calida has stepped down as chairperson of the Commission on Audit, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said Tuesday, in what is now the third consecutive resignation involving top officials under the Marcos administration.

Bersamin told reporters of Calida’s resignation after 10 officials, excluding the former COA chairperson, were reappointed and took their oath before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. following their bypass by the Commission on Appointments.

Calida is the third top Marcos administration official to leave office just before the president completes his first 100 days in Malacañang.

Trixie Cruz-Angeles also told Philstar.com on Tuesday that she was resigning as press secretary due to health reasons, while Vic Rodriguez announced over two weeks ago that he is stepping down as executive secretary to focus on his family.

Prior to taking the helm of the COA, Calida was solicitor general, during which his office was flagged by state auditors over P10.774 million in excess honoraria and allowances to 15 officials, including him. The COA also noted that the allowances were not disclosed by the OSG lawyers named in the report.

The audit body emphasized that additional compensation given to those serving in the government should not go beyond 50% of their annual basic salary. Calida in 2017 received P8.376 million in allowances, going beyond the 50% limit by P7.462 million as his annual basic salary was P1.828 million. 

READ: COA flags 'excessive allowances' of Calida and OSG lawyers

Both Calida and his predecessor, Florin Hilbay, then said that honoraria and allowances received by OSG lawyers are legal. 

In 2019, the state auditor also flagged the OSG for airfare expenses accumulated in its 2018 foreign trips that totalled P7.128 million and were “not supported by complete documents.”

Aside from its untraced travel expenses, the OSG was also called out for their local training expenses that ballooned to over P1.27 million for opting to spend them in hotels and restaurants instead of in office premises. 

The COA in 2019 also flagged the OSG for a P105,471 honoraria payment, supplies and equipment expenses worth over P5.510 million.

The following year, the OSG was called out because of P1.169-million worth of cash advances to pay for more local and foreign travels of its lawyers in 2019, which was again unsupported by required documents. — Xave Gregorio

COMMISSION ON AUDIT

FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

JOSE CALIDA

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