by Allan Yves Briones
At least three Accountable Officers (AO) were cited by the Commission on Audit (COA) for various questionable and irregular cash management practices which are prohibited under PD No. 1445 and the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Under PD 1445, Section 2, it is the state’s policy to manage, expend or utilize government resources according to law, protected against loss or waste. In addition, Section 101 (1) of the same law requires that every government officer who is tasked with the possession of government funds “be accountable” for its safekeeping.
Under Article 217 of the RPC, public officers are accountable for public funds and property, and that those who misuse any amount through abandonment or negligence shall be “guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property.”
In the provincial government of Isabela, at least one AO posted a total cash deficiency of P3.1 million, while at least two others routinely fail to record cash transactions in cashbooks and liquidate excess funds, contrary to law.
According to the commission’s annual audit report, an examination by the audit team on one of Isabela’s AO initially found a cash deficiency of a mere P500,941. The amount grew after an intensified investigation which showed that the AO utilized gov’t funds to defray expenses for diesel, office and janitorial supplies, among others.
A letter of demand was sent to procure the missing funds, to which the AO, according to the report, “verbally admitted the use of other funds, particularly the collection of hospital fees, to cover various expenses…which in effect the failure to deposit the collections intact.”
The AO was subsequently temporarily relieved, and final computation showed a “remarkable increase” of P3.1 million.
With regards to an AO in the Office of the Vice-Governor, state auditors found that contrary to Section 6.2 of COA Circular No. 97-002 dated February 10, 1997, various cash advances were granted but were not recorded in the cashbooks – exposing the provincial government to possible malversation and misappropriation.
Another P3 million was also flagged when state auditors found that the amount granted to an AO remained unliquidated at the end of the year, contrary to the same COA Circular.
The commission recommended that the provincial government of Isabela take steps to recover the deficiency of P3.1 million from the AO, “without prejudice to the filing of legal actions as provided under existing laws, rules and regulations, if warranted.”
In addition, management should order such cash officers in the future to properly adhere to the rules on maintaining cashbooks and liquidating excess funds.