By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
SORSOGON CITY, 12Sept2013 (BicolToday.com) – True that it takes two to dance the tango, literally, three danced their way with it.
This was the case of incumbent Sta. Magdalena Mayor Alejandro Gamos, Roselyn Gile, accountant and Virginia Laco, treasurer of Sta. Magdalena town when they took and approved cash advances 52 times amounting to 8.207 million pesos, starting August 2004 to October 2007, with no stated purposes. and with the lapse of settlement as prescribed by COA, had failed to liquidate the same.
Based on the audit findings, the Ombudsman noted that there were cash advances which were not entered in the books of account of the municipality, had remained unliquidated after the issuance of demand letters from the audit commission.
It was referring to the transactions entered in the name of Gamos and Laco respectively. Gamos received check no. 175255 of 400 hundred thousand pesos with no stated purpose. He is yet to liquidate the amount. Laco advanced 6.45 million pesos with an unliquidated balance of 3.241,524.78 pesos.
The demand letters by state auditors to settle the cash advances were not heeded by respondent officials, raising the presumption that the amounts were used for personal purposes, was the conclusion of the Ombudsman order in finding the respondents liable for grave misconduct.
Jocelyn Gallanosa and Joselito Robillos filed the complaints against the three government officials. At that time, Gamos is not the sitting mayor, while Gile and Laco held key municipal departments which control public funds.
The Ombudsman documents revealed that Gamos at that time incurred 52 cash advances amounting to 8.207 million despite the fact that his previous cash advance were not settled, contrary to Section 89 of PD 1445. He was not bonded, nor a disbursing officer, all his cash advances have no stated purpose, and no statements of proposed expenditures, and he has an unliquidated balance of 2,770,589.60 or 34% of his total cash advances.
As to respondents Gile and Laco, the graft body said that though aware that previous cash advances were not yet liquidated, but for reasons only known to them, they chose to ignore the rules and regulations pertaining to the granting and utilization of cash advances.
On Laco, the records revealed that, as of Sept 2008, she has an outstanding unliquidated cash advance in the total amount of 3,241,524.78. Per COA Circular 97-002, a prescribe period was set for settlement of the cash advance, which she failed to follow.
The committed acts of Gamos, Gile and Laco made them liable for grave misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rules were manifested from the acts or omissions of the respondents.
Their failure to prove that they did not malverse, misappropriate, nor convert to their personal use and benefits the subject cash advances have given rise to legal presumption that they had used the money to the damage and prejudice of the government.
Their failure to heed the COA demand letter was indicative of their guilt, but also showed a plain defiance of a valid order which cannot be countenanced as it involves the improper handling of government funds, was how the Ombudsman treated the issue.
It believed that evidences submitted by complainants were sufficient to render them administratively liable. Grave Misconduct being classified as grave offense, the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service should be imposed upon all respondents with cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examination.
The order was dated June 13, 2013 as approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales a month after. It also tasked the Secretaries of Department of Finance in the case of Laco, and the Local Government for Gamos to implement immediately the order pursuant to Ombudsman Rules of Procedure.
To serve as background, the audit report by COA contained the following:
1. About 52 cash advances totaling P8.207 million were drawn by Gamos from Aug. 2004 to Oct. 2007. All cash advances had no stated purpose and P2,770,589.60 remained unliquidated as of Sept. 2008;
2. Disbursement vouchers (DVs) for the cash advances were signed thrice by Mayor Gamos certifying that “cash advances are necessary and lawful;”
3. DVs for cash advances were signed by Gile certifying to the “completeness and propriety of (the) supporting documents/previous cash advance liquidated; and
4. The DVs for the cash advances were signed by Laco, certifying to the “availability of funds;”
5. Another cash advance drawn by Mayor Gamos in the amount of P400,000 under Check No. 175255 dated Jan. 31, 2007 covered by DV No. 100-07-02-232 has no stated purpose. This cash advance was unliquidated and unrecorded in the books of accounts of the municipality;
6. The cash advances of Laco from January 2005 to 2007 totalling P6.45 million has an unliquidated balance of P3,241,534.78 as of Sept. 30, 2008;
According to the order, the respondents still failed to settle the cash advances despite a series of demand letters up to the filing of the motion for reconsideration by the complainants on June 26, 2011.
7. Mayor Gamos has inliquidated cash advances of P3,170,589.60 while Laco, P3,241,524.38 for a total balance of P6,412,114.30 for the two officials.
Gamos and Laco incurred cash advances from Aug. 2004 to May 2007, and Jan. 2005 to Dec. 2007, respectively, and still failed to liquidate these up to the filing of the motion for reconsideration by complainants on June 26, 2011.
“Such failure to liquidate (the cash advances) raise the presumption that respondents used the government monies for their personal use which warrants sanctions against them,” the Ombudsman said. [BicolToday.com]