EVEN with a Commission on Audit (COA) refund order, workers of the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) each received their P10,000 cash gifts and year-end two-month basic-salary bonus this month.
“I already got my share,” CPA deputy general manager Yusop Uckung said.
He said the midyear one-month basic salary bonus was released last June while the remaining P40,000 of the total P50,000 cash gift may be released later or before the year ends.
State auditors earlier asked the CPA to refund P31.79-million worth of Christmas and midyear benefits for its employees from 2009 to 2010.
They said the allocations were released without approval from the Department of Budget and Management.
“That’s not illegal because we just followed the court order, which was final and executory. We have to obey the decision of the court; otherwise, we will be charged for contempt,” Uckung said.
Despite the COA disallowance order, the CPA still released the huge Christmas and midyear benefits for its 151 regular workers.
CPA also violated the law on the annual Christmas bonus to government officials or Republic Act 6686, the COA said.
State auditors likewise questioned extra perks called traditional benefits aside from those specified under RA 6686.
The traditional benefits consisted of a midyear one-month basic salary bonus, year-end two-month basic-salary bonus and P50,000 cash gift.
Uckung recalled that when CPA was still attached to the Philippine Ports Authority, the workers had already been receiving these perks.
In 1992, former Cebu City congressman Raul del Mar passed the charter for CPA; and after more than three years of transition, the workers from the PPA were completely transferred to CPA in 1996.
Uckung said the PPA workers were resistant to be assigned to the CPA until they were assured that the benefits will be continued under the CPA management.
In 1998, the employees went to court to oblige the CPA management to release the benefits.
The court ruled in 2001 to give those benefits to the workers.
Uckong said the CPA collection already reached more than P600 million, a portion of which can be allocated to the workers.
He pointed out CPA’s funding of improvement projects including road rehabilitation in the different ports of Cebu City. /Correspondent Jhunnex Napallacan