COA questions hiring of guards as job-order workers

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014


STATE auditors have questioned Talisay City Government’s decision to hire 91 security guards as job-order employees.

In its annual audit report of Talisay City Government’s 2013 expenses, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted that the local government hired 91 security guards of Black Pearl and pay them P430 each a day while other job-order workers get only P300 a day.

Talisay City Budget Officer Edgar Mabunay said the arrangement is not disadvantageous to the City Government.

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He said the P430 daily wage of the security guards covers their uniform allowance and equipment. He added that the scheme allows the City Government to save funds because it would be more costly to contact the services of the security agency.

COA noted the City hired the Black Pearl security guards as job-order workers from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013.

Black Pearl is the same security agency contacted by the Cebu Provincial Government.

The move became controversial because Black Pearl allegedly took over the security services at Capitol even before a contract can be awarded to it.

March bidding

At Talisay, Mabunay said Black Pearl won in a bidding held last March yet.

State auditors also found that a representative of Black Pearl claimed the wages of the security guards.

The guards, the report said, authorized the company representative to collect their pay every 15th and 30th of the month.

State auditors pointed out that COA Circular 85-248 prohibits cashiers and disbursing officers from releasing the salary of employees to anyone other than an authorized family member, even if that person presents a power of attorney or other forms of authority.

COA said Black Pearl guards also admitted that they only get P300 per day and the remaining balance of P130 goes to their security agency.

Benefits

State auditors said that City Hall could have saved P1,822,910 had it not involved the security agency.

COA also found during interviews with the guards that Black Pearl allegedly failed to pay premiums for mandated government benefits, like Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-ibig) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

This, auditors said, prevented the guards from availing themselves of some benefits.

Section 15 of Republic Act 5487 or the Private Security Agency Law, states that watchmen or security guards shall receive a salary not lower than that prescribed in the Minimum Wage Law, which is P327 per day in Cebu Province.

Security guards are also entitled to SSS, Pag-ibig and Philhealth coverage and 13th month and other benefits as mandated by labor laws.

Liabilities

COA also found that there was no contract of service entered into between the City and Black Pearl prescribing who shall be held liable in case of loss or damage to the security agency's property, which are in custody of the guards.

Mayor Johnny de los Reyes said the guards were hired under City Hall’s Adopt-a-Talisaynon program, which aims to provide employment to residents.

He said the guards were hired because the contract of the previous security services contractor ended in July 2013.

As there was an immediate need for new security guards for City Hall, de los Reyes said he ordered the hiring of security guards as job-order employees.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 11, 2014.

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