Friday, December 21, 2007

‘Nothing illegal about bonuses’--Andaya

By Christine Avendaño, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- Saying the House of Representatives has fiscal autonomy, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Thursday said that the House can grant each congressmen the P200,000 in staff bonuses this Christmas.

Andaya said the House did not violate anything by granting the bonuses to its employees.

“They’re fiscally autonomous. The funds for these are strictly from their own,” Andaya told reporters in Malacañang.

Because of its own system, the House like the national government can grant bonuses, he explained. He said, recently, the Palace granted up to P10,000 in performance bonuses to all government employees.

Asked how the House will get its funds for the bonuses, the budget secretary said: “Remember that when you are fiscally autonomous, you have the power to realign, you have power of savings, power of recommendation.”

“So you can actually readjust your budget to suit the needs of your members but of course within your ceiling,” Andaya said.

Meanwhile, Andaya said his department had already released the P7,000 the national government will shell out as performance bonuses to government employees.

“Government employees should get their bonuses by now,” he said.

In late October, only members of the majority allegedly received cash gifts of as much as P500,000 each when they went to Malacañang for a breakfast meeting with President Macapagal-Arrroyo.

But this time even members of the House opposition also received the P200,000 in staff bonuses, a member of the militant bloc confirmed Thursday.

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