No irregularity in PHL diplomats' salaries, says DFA
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday said there is “nothing irregular” with the salaries and allowances of the seven Filipino diplomats who were included in the list of highest paid government officials in 2014 based on a Commission on Audit report.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the report did not show the complete picture since it did not make any distinction between salaries and allowances.
“Definitely there is nothing irregular about it,” Jose told GMA News Online.
“Included in the emoluments are not only the basic salary but also allowances for overseas posting,” he explained.
In a separate statement, the DFA said the COA Report on Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) for 2014 “inaccurately” indicates several Philippine ambassadors as among the highest paid officials of the government, noting that a part of the report is “misleading.”
The DFA said its personnel are covered by the Salary Standardization Law for government workers, meaning its employees and diplomats receive the same pay based on rank and length of service like its counterparts in other government agencies.
“Allowances, which are provided in our regulations, are commensurate to one's rank and position,” Jose said.
The department also has a system of allowances for personnel assigned abroad, designed to meet the cost of living in different countries and the demands of its position as representatives of the country.
All allowances of Philippine ambassadors follow the UN Index System that is based on the living standards and economic conditions of countries where the Philippine Government maintains embassies and consulates, the DFA said.
The Foreign Service Act or RA 7157 likewise states that DFA personnel are granted allowances, such as living quarters, overseas and representation allowances on top of their basic salaries.
“Allowances also take into account the cost of living in the post,” Jose said.
He said Philippine ambassadors' Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) are paid directly to the owner of their respective residences, but if owned by the government, a particular amount is earmarked for its upkeep and is not given to the envoy.
According to the DFA, the COA report computed these rental fees as part of the allowances of Philippine ambassadors, which, it said, is “misleading.”
Jose said that while some allowances need to be liquidated, others don’t, such as the overseas allowance, which helps diplomats adjust to the cost of living in the country where they are assigned.
Filipino diplomats are also entitled to a representation allowance, which is used for official meetings, functions and visits of dignitaries and public relations activities. —Michaela del Callar/ALG, GMA News