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SC rejects councilors’ monetary awards

MANILA, Philippines (Tempo) – The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that local governments are not allowed to grant monetary awards to mayors, vice mayors, and councilors who have been elected for three consecutive terms to the same position.

In a decision written by Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the SC ruled that the monetary award as part of the Exemplary Public Service Award (EPSA) “is excessive and tantamount to double and additional compensation.”

With the ruling, the SC affirmed the disallowance ordered by the Commission on Audit (CoA) on the monetary award under EPSA given to four Manila City councilors who had received initially from the city government P1.6 million each.

But the SC said that in line with its previous rulings, the four councilors were not required to refund the amount they had received “because all the parties acted in good faith.” The CoA, meanwhile, was barred from enforcing the notice of finality of its disallowance decision.

The grant of EPSA to former Manila City Councilors Luciano Veloso, Abraham Cabochan, Jocelyn Dawis-Asuncion, and Marlon M. Lacson was approved under City Ordinance No. 8040 passed by the city council on December 7, 2000.

EPSA, as approved by the Manila City council, carries with it retirement and gratuity pay remuneration equivalent to the actual time served in the position for three consecutive terms. (Rey G. Panaligan)