25 APRIL 2008
P C I J I N V E S T I G A T I O N — MALACAÑANG IS NO. 1 AGENCY WITH EXCESS EXEC HIRES — CSC
NOT PRO BONO WORK
The fact of the matter is even without salaries, there are hidden costs government carries for political appointees.
For one, these appointees are accorded at least office space, work stations, cars, secretarial and administrative staff, and some access to miscellaneous expense accounts.
David, the CSC's ex-chairman, did the math and estimates that at the very least, the total salaries and allowances of Arroyo's excess executives, and that of their staff, amount to about P122 million a year.
Of this, she says about P65 million a year goes to compensation of the staff personnel of the excess undersecretaries and assistant secretaries.
It might be a drop in the bucket, compared with the P300-billion budget in 2008 for personnel services of the entire bureaucracy, “but P65 million is P65 million,” Boncodin says. “You can make use of that for a lot of, but...you're assuming that all of these are non-performing assets. I wouldn't say that.”
There is, in the view of Social Watch convenor Leonor Briones, a question of confused roles, inefficiency and waste of resources.
Briones, a professor in public administration at the University of the Philippines who served as national treasurer under Estrada, asks: “Why should she (Arroyo) have a Presidential Consultant on DILG matters when the DILG secretary is at her beck and call every hour of the day?”
“Why does she need a Presidential Adviser on Revenue Enhancement when the Secretary of Finance and the BIR and Customs Commissioners are constantly at her side? Why Presidential Assistants for Panay, Pampanga, Bicol, Cagayan Valley when there are directors and governors who regularly troop to Malacañang?” Briones adds.
To UP political science professor Clarita Carlos, yet another issue is that political loyalties, more than meritocracy, seem to drive appointments to key government posts. “For God's sake, why isn't there a deeper bench in terms of choosing better people?” Carlos queries.
A career service executive officer at the defense department points to other adverse results of the too frequent turnover of managers in his agency — programs are disrupted and career service personnel denied a chance to get promoted.
The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, says: “A lot of the military men here (DND) are presidential appointees serving at the pleasure of the President, so continuity (of programs) suffers, plus, of course, they come in at the top, so you deprive people an opportunity to go up.”
“There was a time here na since the group at the top were not aware of how a program grew, procurements ito, it took about two years and the program did not move,” he reveals.
NO COMPETITIVE SCREENING
The big puzzle to both Briones and Boncodin is how Arroyo can deal with so many advisers and assistants when she hardly has time to breathe given her work load and pace.
“Does the President have the time for 50 hovering advisers when she has the entire national bureaucracy?” Briones asks.
In Boncodin's mind, the question is: “How many people can you listen to? What is your span of control? So the limit should be what is a reasonable span of control for the President.”
It must be stressed that it was during Arroyo's term that 129 task forces, including many born and bred during her predecessors' watch, were abolished. However, in their stead, Arroyo has also created over 20 new task forces.
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