Senate looks into Neri’s mining bonus

Published by rudy Date posted on August 23, 2010

The Senate finance committee has summoned former administrator Romulo Neri of the Social Security System to a hearing on Tuesday to get his side on the allegation that he and ten others received P206 million in bonus as members of the board of directors of Philex Mining.

Neri represented the SSS in the mining firm’s board in which the pension fund has an investment. Neri is one of the heads of government-owned or controlled corporations invited by the committee, chaired by Franklin Drilon, to shed light on “excessive” compensation paid to them, as contained in a 2009 report of the Commission on Audit.

Drilon said part of the compensation was the bonuses that government nominees should remit to the coffers of the GOCCs as part of the earnings of their investments in private corporations.

Philex is authorized by law to distribute one and a half percent of its profits to the members of its board in the form of a bonus.

Drilon said in an interview with radio station dzBB that when Jose Cuisia Jr. and Renato Valencia served as SSS administrator, they adhered to a policy of returning to the pension fund whatever bonuses they obtained as the System’s nominees in the board of directors of private corporations.

But he said this policy had supposedly been changed when Carlos Arellano took over as SSS administrator during the Estrada administration.

Drilon said i Neri should return the money to the SSS or face criminal sanction.

Noting that Neri has already been replaced as SSS administrator, Drilon warned him that if he would snub the hearing, he could be the subject of a Senate subpoena and possible arrest warrant.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile however said that a government representative may be allowed to receive a reasonable amount of bonus as an incentive for good performance.

“That is unless the board of trustees of the agency where he is assigned will telll him, any additional compensation you get must rever to this,” Enrile told the same radio station.

“You are not sending your personal representative there to earn money for you.  You are sending him there to do a job to protect your investment and if in serving in that capacity, there is an additional compensation from that corporation, unless there is a limitation imposed by the board that sent you, that is your good luck.”

Enrile also said that bonuses given to a government representative in a private firm is a form of a reward for performing their job properly.

“If they are in the outside world, they can earn more money than when they are in the government. Sometimes, the appointing powr equalizes that by sending them to private corporations  so that they can be compensated while they are serving the government,” Enrile said. –Fel Maragay, Manila Standard Today

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