Ombudsman sanctions ex-Eastern Samar mayor for unauthorized travels and illegal use of govt. vehicle
25 September 2017
The Office of the Ombudsman has found former Llorente, Eastern Samar Mayor Tito Codoy, Jr. guilty of Grave Misconduct and has ordered his dismissal from the service including the imposition of the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, disqualification for reemployment in the government service, and bar from taking civil service examinations.
In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one-year salary.
Records show that Codoy made eight trips to Manila and Tacloban from September 2013 to March 2014 without written permissions or travel authority from the governor of Eastern Samar. Notwithstanding the lack of authority, Codoy sought reimbursement and received the total amount of P81,954.04 as travel expenses.
As defense, respondent insisted that he communicated his travels to the office of the governor but his travel orders were not approved. Codoy claimed that the travels were deemed approved because the governor failed to act on his communications within four working days. Codoy also claimed that the travels were necessary as “they provided more opportunities and national government support to the municipality especially in its rehabilitation and recovery in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda.”
The Ombudsman junked respondent’s contention that his trips were deemed approved as it is clear that under Section 96 of the Local Government Code, mayors of component cities and municipalities shall secure the permission of the governor concerned for any travel outside the province.
“As respondent’s travels were unauthorized, he could not be entitled to receive travel allowances. Hence his reimbursements for his travel expenses are illegal. These numerous infractions are tantamount to Grave Misconduct,” the Decision stated.
The Ombudsman added that respondent’s insistence on the urgency and benefits of his travels cannot exculpate him from any liability for violating the law as the requirement for travel authority allows no exceptions. The Office added that “it is unbelievable why respondent had to leave his devastated town for Manila for a total of 33 days from 03 December 2013 to 05 May 2014 to, by his claim, follow-up submitted documents and request for funding of projects.”
In a separate administrative case, Codoy was also found guilty of Simple Misconduct and ordered suspended for one month and one day. The penalty, however, was converted into a fine equivalent to his one month and one day salary in view of his separation from the service.
Codoy’s official vehicle was apprehended on 14 July 2013, a Sunday, at a mall in Tacloban City. Inside the vehicle as passengers were Codoy’s relatives who were fetched at the Tacloban airport by driver Joseph Ty. Codoy failed to present any trip ticket to show that the government vehicle was used for official business.
Under Commission on Audit Circular No. 75-6, the proper procedure for official travel using a government vehicle provides that the personnel must request the use of the vehicle by accomplishing a trip ticket form in two copies, stating the name of the driver, purpose and destination of the travel; the trip ticket must be duly approved by the official authorizing the travel; and one copy of the trip ticket shall be surrendered upon departure to the guard on-duty of the motorpool with the other copy to be retained by the driver. Moreover, it is also required that the trip ticket authorizing the use of the vehicle should be displayed on the windshield or other conspicuous place on the vehicle. ###