2 ex-Tesda chiefs ordered to return unauthorized benefits

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Thursday, March 13, 2014


TWO former heads of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) were ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) to return to the government excess monetary benefits they received from 2004 to 2007.

The Supreme Court (SC) Public Information Office said the Court affirmed the notice of disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the payments of extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (EME) worth P5,498,706.60 to Tesda officials not entitled to it.

"The Court affirmed the disallowance but modified the COA decision by holding that only the Director-Generals (for the relevant periods, namely Alcestis Guiang and Augusto Syjuco Jr.) who approved the excess or unauthorized EME are ordered to refund the EME, which they received for themselves," the SC PIO said Wednesday.

Syjuco got P809,691.11.

Only the department secretary, department undersecretary, bureau director, regional director (bureau or department) and judges in the Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Circuit Trial Court and Shari'a Circuit Court can receive EME under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The amount ranges from P13,000 for a judge to P180,000 for a department secretary. They are also allowed to incur miscellaneous expenses not exceeding P50,000.

In Tesda's case, the Court found that the agency had not cited any specific provision of the GAA authorizing the payment, claiming only that its grant was an "institutional practice."

It also called out Syjuco for not clarifying with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) the proper use of extraordinary expenses, noting that he authorized the payment of the EMEs in excess of the allowable amount and extended the payment to officials not entitled to it in violation of the 2004-2007 GAAs.

Syjuco claimed only executive directors, regional directors or officials holding equivalent positions assigned by him as project directors were entitled to EME from the Technical Education and Skills Development Project (TESDP) Fund.

"The Director-General’s blatant violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the 2004-2007 GAAs and the COA circulars is equivalent to gross negligence amounting to bad faith. He (the Director General) is required to refund the EME he received from the TESDP Fund for himself," the decision read.

As for other Tesda officials, the SC said they acted in good faith since they had no hand in the approval of the unauthorized EME.

"They also honestly believed that the additional EME were reimbursement for their designation as project officers by the Director General. Being in good faith, they need not refund the excess EME received," the SC said.

Associate Justice Arturo Brion said Guiang and Syjuco must return the total disallowed expenses as opposed to the majority’s position limiting it to the amount they illegally received.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio penned the decision. (Sunnex)

Local news

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