Apparently, LTO Employees Like to Spend on iPhones and Prepaid Loads at Work

Apparently, LTO Employees Like to Spend on iPhones and Prepaid Loads at Work

How far would you go in using government funds to purchase mobile phone and prepaid cards at work if you're from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Region IV-A?

Perhaps around PHP3.98 Million worth of iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 phones, iPads, and excessive prepaid loads just to get started.

According to Manila Standard, the Commission on Audit (COA) has called LTO-NCR's and LTO-Region IV-A's attentions regarding their "expensive mobile phones and prepaid load" purchases. COA explained that their purchases were "deemed unnecessary and excessive in violation of COA Circular 2012-003," and their practices were not in-line with the government's appeal for careful and frugal use of government funds and or resources.

Expensive mobile phone purchases

"The grant of cellular phones, tablets in LTO-NCR and postpaid mobile cellular phone units in LTO-Region IV-A--for the same purpose and objective considering serviceability status of existing units and corresponding issuance of more than one unit to an individual as well as to an individual holding the position lower than Division Chief rank--are deemed excessive and unnecessary pursuant to the provision of the above-stated COA Circular," state auditors said.

"Moreover, it signifies the agency's non-responsiveness to the government's call for judicious and prudent use of government funds and/or resources," the Commission added. Moreover, the state auditors asserted that the PHP649,000 worth of monthly cellphone card allowances of its employees was not approved by the Civil Service Commission Regional Office. They are in charge of amending the LTO Program on Awards Incentives for the Service Excellence (PRAISE) that provides the granting of such benefits.

The Commission noted that of the PHP3.98 million worth of expenditures the LTO made, around PHP3.3 million were used to buy mobile phones. Here is a more detailed breakdown of their expenses as listed in GMA Network's site:

  • 24 units of iPhone 6 plus each with 128 gigabyte storage worth PHP1.3 million (2015)
  • 6 units of iPhone 6 plus each with 128 gigabyte storage worth PHP259,740 (2016)
  • 6 units of iPhone 6 plus each with 128 gigabyte storage worth PHP263,940 (2017)
  • 5 units of iPhone 7 each with 128 gigabyte storage worth PHP219,950
  • 22 units of iPad mini each with 64 gigabyte storage worth PHP611,600; and
  • 46 units of other mobile phones worth PHP660,769

Prepaid loads used in excess

COA also added that LTO's prepaid load expenditures amounting to PHP649,000 was way over the the Civil Service Commission's rule on granting incentives under the PRAISE program. Under the law, they only grant prepaid load allowances worth P500 to each Service Chief, Division Chief, and Section Chief in the performance of official duties every month.

"The granting of the monthly cellphone cards allowances is considered as irregular expenses due to the non-approval of the said Resolution by the CSC Regional Office as amendment to the LTO PRAISE providing the granting of such benefits, thus not considered as legal bases for the granting of cell card benefits," the COA said.

COA recommends limiting cellphone issuance to qualified officials and employees whose positions are not lower than Division Chief rank. Moreover, LTO's employees are required to return their cellular phones to the Property Section, which will later be used by other qualified employees. Moreover, they should also submit legal authorization if they want to apply for postpaid mobile phone lines.

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