Ombudsman suspends Iloilo officials for misconduct
12 January 2018
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the nine-month suspension of former Mayor Reynor Gonzales and Vice-Mayor Cesar Gonzales of Lambunao, Iloilo, after they were found guilty of Simple Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.
The complaint stemmed from the 2014 Commission on Audit (COA) Annual Audit Report finding that respondents received transportation allowance (TA) despite being assigned government vehicles for their official use. Based on COA’s Notice of Disallowance (ND), Reynor received a total of P90,000.00 while Cesar received P83,880.00 as TA from January 2014 to December 2014. The COA emphasized that under the Department of Budget and Management Circular No. 2013-103 dated 15 May 2013 “those who were assigned or who use government motor transportation shall no longer be entitled to the TA, but only to the commutable [representation allowance] for the month.”
“Records show that respondents did not deny the receipt of the ND. Despite such receipt, respondent Reynor only partially settled the disallowance in the total amount of P40,400.00 as evidenced by the 21 June 2016 Notice of Settlement of Suspension/Disallowance/Charge and the receipts submitted by respondent Reynor. To this date, the record is bereft of evidence to show that he had settled the remaining balance. On the other hand, respondent Cesar had not shown any evidence that he had settled or complied with such ND,” stated the Decision.
The Decision cited the case of Domingo v. Commission on Audit wherein the Supreme Court pronounced that “the use of government motor vehicle and claim for transportation allowance are mutually exclusive and incompatible.”
“[B]oth respondents participated in the questioned disbursement in their respective capacities as municipal officers. Without the imprimatur of Reynor, respondent Cesar would not have been able to claim his TA,” the Resolution explained.
The Decision added that in the event that the penalty of suspension can no longer be enforced due to respondents’ separation from the service, the penalty shall be converted into a fine equivalent to their salary for nine months. Respondents were also sternly warned that a repetition or commission of the same or similar offense would be dealt with more severely. ###