CLARK FREEPORT -- Clark Development Corporation (CDC) President Benigno Ricafort said Thursday the audit report stating that he is among highest paid government officials in 2009 is not an "accurate picture of his salary and compensation."

An earlier news report stated that Ricafort, in 2009, received P14,506,466.74 which included P10 million in "extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses."

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

"Unfortunately, the news item is inaccurate and unfairly featured a story damaging to the reputation and integrity of our company," Ricafort said in response to the published news item.

He clarified that the salary of P2.078 million per year he now receives is the same amount when he started in August 2008. This was a pass-on from prior years and has not been adjusted for 2010, according to Ricafort.

"I voluntarily stated in our Board meeting sometime past, that I will discourage any upward adjustment, if any. On the Clark International Airport Corporation [CIAC] compensation of per diem, this is an entitlement as a member of the Board of Directors of CIAC representing CDC which for some years has been in existence, way back all other former CDC president predecessors," Ricafort said.

Ricafort said CIAC is a subsidiary of CDC and by structure and policy coordination needs to be represented in the CIAC Board.

"On the P10 million, this amount has been lumped under my name and accountability, not as part of my compensation, but is lumped as described in the COA for extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, and my accountability for its usage is concerned. This is subject to audit and validation," Ricafort stressed.

Ricafort explained that the fund has been established and pre-approved by the CDC Board, and fixed in advance. This process is basic and essential in allocating fund usage and allotments for identifiable accounts that serve as a "Limit and Guide" for the use of management. This process has been in place since the start of CDC in 1993.

In a supplemental statement, Ricafort said the people in business, industry and management would know from their experience that some expense items cannot be predicted with strict accuracy, but are classified as necessary and needed when they surface during the current year operations.

In the case of Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), requests for additional fund allocations when they occur, are not as easily facilitated as compared to private entities/corporations. Certain developments that may occur during the year, regarded as essential to growth and GOCC welfare, are critical corporate initiatives like for growth and expansion that cannot be set aside (promotions, advertisements, public-client relations, community programs, security and emergency events, etc).

Ricafort said documents are available for scrutiny on the actual salary that he is getting from government.

"Finally, may I appeal through you [media], to your colleagues, to also include research on the positive aspects of our public service as GOCCs. Perhaps, in the interest of our efforts to attract foreign direct investments to the country, employment, and such benefits, would your paper be interested to know more about Clark Development Corporation? My service record of 17 years in CDC under 4 Philippine Presidents can be a possible guide and source of information, for the sake of the country. I will give and devote time in the interest of responsive journalism," Ricafort said. (Ian Ocampo Flora with reports from Rey G. Navales)