By Ben R. Rosario
The Commission on Audit has ordered officials of the Office of the Solicitor General to return a total of P10,774,283.92 in excess honoraria and allowances to the government, with Solicitor General Jose Calida asked to refund the bulk amounting to P7,462,410.28.
In its 2017 annual audit report for the OSG, CoA said Calida and OSG lawyers collected allowances for legal services rendered to client agencies that exceeded 50 percent of their salaries.
The adverse audit findings were released in the wake of reports that Calida may have violated the law as a result of the multi-million peso security service contracts that his family’s security agency signed with various government agencies.
Audit examiners said Calida may be entitled to only P913,950 in allowances which represents half of his actual salary.
However, in 2017, the OSG chief took home P8.376 million in allowances, which is P7.46 million over the allowable limit. The total allowances and honoraria he received is over four times his annual pay.
The CoA noted that aside from the excessive honoraria and allowances that OSG officials received, the benefits have not been “properly monitored for taxation purposes.”