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Surprise! Hilbay sides with Calida on his excessive allowance: It’s legal

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Even though they may disagree with a lot of things, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay defended his successor, Solicitor General Jose Calida, over the issue of the P10.7 million allowances the latter’s office received.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has released its 2017 audit report of the COA where it flagged the P10.7 million allowances and ordered it returned to the government.

However, Hilbay said there are laws which allows the OSG to receive allowances, namely, Presidential Decree 478, Executive Order 292, and Republic Act 9517, an Act to Strengthen the OSG.

“The OSG, unlike most other government agencies, is specifically allowed by law to receive allowances (not from its own funds, but from those of other agencies),” read his Twitter post on Saturday (June 2).

He noted that the audit report was made only by COA resident auditors using a COA circular which limits the allowances to 50 percent of an employee’s salary. The matter is currently under review by the COA en banc.

“The position of the OSG has always been that the COA Circular, an administrative issuance, cannot override an act of Congress. The Congress controls the power of the purse and therefore has clear constitutional authority to provide exceptions to general rules,” Hilbay said.

The former solicitor general explained the reason for allowing the allowances at the OSG is to “allow the institution to retain good lawyers.”

“I hope this clarifies this matter, for the benefit of the public and for the protection of the reputation of former and current lawyers of the OSG,” Hilbay said.

“I also hope that people’s moral approval or disapproval of the current Solicitor General does not affect this legal matter,” he added.