The Commission on Audit has ordered the officials and employees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s Corporate Office to refund the P8,173,730 paid out to them as meal allowances in 2012 and 2013.
In a Feb. 19 decision, the state auditors’ Commission Proper dumped the petition for review filed by the MWSS-CO seeking to lift the four notices of disallowance issued on June 30, 2014.
COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc agreed that the MWSS officials defaulted on the reglementary period by filing only after 362 days from receipt of the notices of disallowance or more than double the 180 days allowed.
The petitioners were former MWSS administrator Gerardo Esquivel; former senior deputy administrator Nathaniel Santos; deputy administrators Zoilo Andin Jr. and Leonor Cleaofas; Legal Services Department manager Darlina Uy; Site Operation Management Department manager Jose Dorado Jr.; Policy, Planning and Public Relations Department manager Ronald Abrigo; Operations Support Department manager Anabella Altuna; Property Department manager Vicente Elefante; Internal Audit Department manager Florendo Batasin Jr., and assistant manager Bienvenido Sarmiento, among others.
“Based on the foregoing, petitioners had already exhausted the reglementary period of six months or 180 days to file the petition for review. Petitioners did not offer any plausible explanation for the extended delay in filing this appeal. Thus, this Commission finds no compelling reason to justify the relaxation of its rules of procedures,” the Commission Proper’s resolution read.
“At any rate, even if the petition is decided on the merits, it would still be denied because the power of the MWSS Board of Trustees is not absolute and plenary, particularly in the grant of additional allowances to its personnel,” the commission said.
Invoking the Supreme Court ruling in the 1999 case of Intia vs. CoA, the commission said jurisprudence required the governing board of all government-owned-or-controlled corporations to comply with the guidelines set under RA 6758 or the Salary Standardization Law.