COA urges PPA to secure land titles of their properties worth P60.5 B

Published November 4, 2020, 11:08 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit (COA) has asked the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to take immediate legal steps to secure the land titles for over P60.5 billion worth of reclaimed areas and land still not covered by original certificate of title, tax declaration or any other document proving ownership by PPA.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) (MANILA BULLETIN)

COA also warned it will disallow the disbursement of over P140 million the Authority paid to employees and officials who are not covered by the grant of various allowances and fiscal incentives given in 1989.

“We recommended that management review payments made to officials/employees who were paid other benefits even they were not incumbents of the Authority before the Salary Standardization was passed and deduct correspondingly from their salaries,” the 2019 annual audit report for PPA said.

In the audit report that was recently released by COA, the state audit agency said that the continued failure of PPA to secure land titles and other ownership documents to some P60.563 billion worth of land is contrary to Presidential Decree No. 1445.

Audit of the PPA properties showed that seven Port Management Offices (PMO) under the PPA have parcels of land that are yet to be covered by Original Certificates of Title, Tax Declaration or any document indicating ownership by the state-owned firm.

The PMO in Misamis Oriental/Cagayan de Oro still does not have land titles to 242,831 square meters of reclaimed and expropriated land worth P1,249,975,927.27.

The same problem prevails in PMO Bataan/Aurora where P245.58 million worth of reclaimed areas for port expansion and other purposes are yet to be titled to PPA.

Original Certificate of Title  for NCR North land with book value P14.97 billion and for NCR South with book value of P41.52 billion have yet to be secured.

The 606,740 square meter port area property in NCR South is also being claimed by the Government Service Insurance System.

“The 606,740 sq. meter land subject of dispute with GSIS was the reclaimed area of the North Harbor, Manila Bay with an area consisting approximately of 375.34 hectares,” COA disclosed.

The PPA management assured COA that it has taken steps to have their properties titled.

The PPA headed by General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago also disputed the audit observation that denies the grant of various allowances to employees and officers who are not “incumbents of positions as of July 1, 1989.”

The grant of various allowances was authorized under Corporate Compensation Circular No. 10 issued by the Department of Budget Management.  The DBM order provided allowances and fringe benefits to employees of state-owned corporation whose benefits are not integrated into their basic salary.

Under CCC No. 10, PPA employees and officers are entitled to rice subsidy, sugar subsidy, children’s allowance, special duty pay/allowance, meal subsidy and other benefits.

COA said grant of such allowances to employees who are not with the PPA as of June 30, 1989 is “without authority and disallowable in audit.”

In reaction to COA’s demand for refund, the PPA management stressed that PPA employees have already “acquired vested right over the allowances and they have been enjoying such benefits over a long period of time.”

Responding to PPA’s comment, COA said: “Management cannot feign they have vested rights over the allowances when receipt of such allowances is with no legal basis in the first place.”

“Also, there is non-diminution of salaries since they are already deemed included in the salary.  Therefore, allowances paid to PPA employees are without legal basis, and thus, should be refunded,” the state audit agency stressed.