‘Ex-officio’ personnel should not receive additional income

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There is something anomalous about high officials in government pocketing additional income/allowances for doing extra jobs outside of their main posts. Among the hundreds of mainstream or satellite agencies created by law, there are officials designated to sit in them as ex-officio (i.e., by virtue of their office) chairs or members, on account of which they routinely help themselves to adscititious perks and privileges in the guise of per diems, allowances, incentives or what-have-you.

Thus, it is not uncommon to hear about them amassing millions in compensation at the end of each year (Inquirer, 11/25/12). No less than the Commission on Audit is appalled by the sheer magnitude of the misappropriation.

Let’s bottom-line this mind-boggling setup. When a public official goes to work in another office in an ex-officio capacity, he is physically absent from the office to which he was principally appointed. Thus, while being in another place (say, the whole day), he is accordingly rendered unable to discharge the duties pertaining to his principal office. But despite that, he continues to receive his fixed salary and suffers no diminution thereof.

If that be the case, why should he be compensated for work done in the other office? Unless he has a rare talent for bilocation, the work he does with a single human body (and presumably with one brain) should be paid for only once. Whether or not we look at it as just mere “allowances,” “per diems” or “incentives,” they all amount to and form part of a double or triple compensation package! That, to our thinking, is basically obscene. And despite all Supreme Court pronouncements striking down “double compensation” in government as immoral and illegal, that is still happening all over the entire bureaucracy.

We often hear the expression that public office is a thankless job. Yet, the jockeying for such position is almost always intense, sometimes internecine; and those already entrenched fight tooth and nail to hang on to their turf, to the extent of being so shamelessly “kapit-tuko”! It used to make no sense. Ah, but apparently, we just got it all wrong. The built-in schemes for looting and plunder are all there!

—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO,

Monsanto Law Office,

Loyola Heights, Quezon City,

lexsquare.firm@gmail.com

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