Council warns vs unjust monetization of leave credits
Kristine B. Quintas/JMD (The Freeman) - November 19, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City Council has warned the executive department against “unfair” allocation of funds meant for the monetization of City Hall employees’ leave credits.

This is to prevent any misallocation of funds similar to what happened to the granting of P1.1 monetization of leave credits to former city treasurer Eustaquio Cesa even though he was convicted of graft by the Supreme Court in 2010.

 The SC upheld the decision of the Sandiganbayan convicting Cesa, along with then city administrator Alan Gaviola, cash division chief Benilda Bacasmas and city accountant Edna Jaca, of graft for allowing a paymaster to accumulate more than P9 million in unliquidated cash advances in 1998.

Prior to that, the Office of the Ombudsman suspended Cesa for six months without pay for tolerating illegal practices relative to the granting of cash advances to paymaster, thus facilitating the loss of P9,810,752 on the part of the city government.

 For 2015, the local finance committee of the executive department has proposed P16.5 million for the monetization of leave credits, which triples this year’s P5.5 million.

In 2013, nearly P1 million was appropriated for the said account under the City Administrator’s Office. The city’s annual budget for 2014 was P5.9 billion.

 During a recent budget hearing, City Administrator Dr. Lucelle Mercado explained that the P1.1 million released to Cesa was made out of “humanitarian considerations.”

 “It was granted to him because he could no longer get his retirement fees and other benefits following the verdict of the higher court. And we cannot deprive him of his leave credits,” she said.

 Human Resource and Development Office chief lawyer Dominic Diño said the P1.1 million was even less than the value of 50 percent of Cesa’s actual leave credits.

 Section 23 of the Omnibus Rules on Leave of the Civil Service Commission provides that monetization of 50 percent of all the accumulated leave credits may be allowed for valid and justifiable reasons subject to the discretion of the agency head and the availability of funds. 

The P1.1 million was sourced from this year’s first Supplemental Budget for monetization amounting to P5 million.

Of the remaining amount, P1 million was earmarked for the city councilors and about P3 million was divided among city employees experiencing “life and death situations.”

 However, Majority Floor Leader Councilor Margarita Osmeña said the budget for monetization has to be “equally” distributed to employees.

 “Many employees, who were also in a life and death situations, were not given monetization based on the various complaints received by the city councilors. We should be fair,” she said.

 The City Administrator’s Office was required to submit breakdown of monetization allocations for 2015 and 2014, as well as the distribution guidelines of the monetization.

 “Lump-sum is very much discouraged by the Department of Budget and Management. We will ask for details and breakdown before we will consider them seriously,” she said.  — (FREEMAN)

ALAN GAVIOLA BENILDA BACASMAS CEBU CITY COUNCIL CESA CITY CITY ADMINISTRATOR MILLION MONETIZATION
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