THE second part of the PCIJ’s latest report on ineligibles in government looks into the costs and impact on governance, real and hidden, of political appointments.

Of the various agencies of government, it is the Office of the President that has the biggest number of undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, advisers, assistants and consultants in excess of caps provided by law, and without civil-service eligibility.

As a 2008 study of the Civil Service Commission shows, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has hired an excess of 81 undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, apart from 53 presidential advisers and presidential assistants, and an unknown number of consultants.

Such excess not seen in any previous administration, as former CSC chair Karina Constantino-David noted, is in complete disregard of the Administrative Code of 1987 and various laws stipulating that there should be at most 163 undersecretaries and assistant secretaries in the 24 executive departments.

Arroyo’s own executive order, EO 366, supposedly to trim the bureaucracy, also exempted her appointees from the rationalization program, thus turning the government administrative structure fatter at the top.

Even though Malacañang claims most do not get 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. By David’s own estimates, 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.

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