By: Gerome Dalipe
STATE auditors have urged the Iloilo Provincial Government to conduct a complete inventory of all the lands owned and controlled by the Province.
This after the Commission on Audit (COA), its 2018 annual report, discovered that the Provincial Assessor’s Office is not maintaining updated records of all the idle lands owned by the Provincial Government.
Thus, some landowners in Iloilo Province failed to pay an additional one percent taxes required for their idle lots since 1991, thereby understating the account balance by P408-million.
“The incomplete inventory of the land exposed the Provincial Government to the illegal or unauthorized use of its properties by other government or private entities,” read the COA report.
In the report, the auditors said the land owned and controlled by the Provincial Government were not monitored and accounted in the physical count of Property Plant and Equipment account.
This practice is contrary to Sec. 239 of the provisions of the Local Government Code and the 2017 Revised Revenue Code of the Province of Iloilo.
There were neither deeds of usufruct, contracts of a lease or other relating documents, authorizing other government or private entities to use the lands, the auditors said.
Such caused understatement of the account balance totaling to P408-million, thus posing risks of improper and unauthorized use or disposition of the lots.
During the exit conference, the Provincial Assessor’s Office said they did not have systematic records management.
The provincial assessor admitted having confusion on who has the real responsibility on the safe-keeping of original titles, contracts, and other similar documents.
The Provincial General Services Office also informed the auditors that they have requested the Land Registration Agency to verify all the lands registered under the Province’s name.
The auditors asked the governor to direct the provincial assessor to formulate the plan and strategies in identifying and classifying idle lands.
There is also a need to establish a database or a complete list of idle lots to be furnished to the Provincial Treasurer’s Office.
Likewise, the auditors directed the General Services Office to establish “strong record management” by systematically securing and compiling all the records and documents relative to the Capitol’s transactions and properties.
The General Services Office should also, make request for copies of “competent evidence” to establish ownership and right of the Provincial Government on all the lands accounted including any contracts of lease or deeds, the auditors said.