Samar mayor indicted, suspended for unliquidated funds
15 January 2018
The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Mayor Leonilo Costelo of Talalora, Samar, for two counts of violation of Article 218 (Failure to Render Accounts) of the Revised Penal Code. He was found guilty of Simple Neglect of Duty and ordered suspended from office for three months.
Investigation conducted by the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas showed that on 16 May 2014, Costelo received P18,159.00 as cash advance for his travel to attend a forum in Pasay City, and P370,000.00 received on 03 December 2014 for relief operations during typhoon Ruby, which cash advances remained unsettled and unaccounted for.
In his counter-affidavit, respondent claimed that the delay was caused by “[the] need to reconstruct the documents necessary for liquidation which were either missing or destroyed during the onslaught of typhoon Ruby.”
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman junked Costelo’s defense and ruled that “respondent’s obligation to liquidate said cash advance [for travel expenses] had already attached even before typhoon Ruby hit the municipality of Talalora on 06 December 2014. Moreover, on the supposition that documents necessary to liquidate the P370,000.00 cash advance for relief operations were indeed destroyed during the onslaught of typhoon Ruby, it is highly improbable that it took respondent roughly two years to reconstruct the supposed destroyed documents. As of date of this Resolution, the cash advance remained unliquidated.”
Under Section 89 of Presidential Decree 1445 (Government Auditing Code of the Philippines), the cash advance shall be reported on and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was given has been served. Moreover, Commission on Audit Circular No. 97-002 requires that cash advances for official local travel expenses shall be liquidated by the accountable officer within 30 days after return to the permanent official station. Meantime, petty operating expenses and field operating expenses shall be liquidated within 20 days after the end of the year. ###