MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/07 January) – The provincial government of Bukidnon released a total of P184.920 million for extra cash gifts or what is now called performance enhancement incentives, reliable sources at the Capitol who asked not to be named said.
All elected and appointive officials, regular and casual employees numbering 2,286 persons by December received P80,000 each based on a computation by MindaNews. Job order employees numbering 51 got P40,000 each.
The total amount for the incentives is even greater than the combined 2011 allocations for Provincial Indigency Health Project at P17.8 million, the Provincial Housing and Resettlement Office at P5.87 million, and the special education fund of P37 million, including P24.37 million for construction, rehabilitation, repair and completion of school buildings and other structures.
Gov. Alex Calingasan confirmed that he approved the release of the P80,000 incentive, the same amount released by his predecessor and now Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr.
Local finance officials were mum about the details of the bonus pending clearance from the governor.
The first tranche of P50,000 was released before December 16, the second tranche of P20,000 was released before December 25, and the last tranche of P10,000 was released before New Year’s Day.
As of their session on December 15, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan received the proposal for the release of the P50,000 incentive. There was no word of the additional bonuses then.
Calingasan defended the release of the bonus, although he considered it “too big.” He said he just wanted to match the bonus Zubiri gave in 2009 in order not to dismay the employees who “worked hard” for the provincial government.
The governor said they released the amount because they had enough savings and the allocation for it was within the 45-percent limit for personnel expenses.
He said he will cut the amount in December 2011 to free more funds for livelihood programs to benefit a greater number of constituents.
On reactions that the province had released probably the highest PEI in the country, Calingasan clarified that what they gave only appeared “too high” compared to others because it was a lump sum.
“The others release rice, medical, and other allowable allowances on a monthly basis. We don’t,” he said.
Fe Retuertas, provincial budget officer, said the bonus came from savings including those from “salaries and benefits of retired employees and unfilled vacant positions.”
“We have nothing to hide,” Zubiri told MindaNews Wednesday. He said the “province cannot release what it does not have” and that the release of the bonus was within legal bounds.
He said they had clearance from the Department of Budget and Management that they may release “without ceiling” excess cash gifts on certain conditions.
“Secretary (Florencio) Abad and the President are aware of this,” he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)