DISALLOWED RELEASES: Why can’t Capitol recover P23.15M from employees?

By: Gerome Dalipe

WHY can’t the Iloilo Provincial Government enforce the state auditors’ demand to recover the public funds that were illegally released to some Capitol personnel?

The Commission on Audit (COA) has since ordered the Provincial Government to enforce the already aging notices of disallowances to Capitol officials and employees amounting to P23.15 million.

But such orders by state auditors fell on deaf ears of Capitol officials concerned, thus delaying the recovery of government funds.

“The recovered funds may be utilized to finance other priority or development project that will benefit the constituents of the Province,” read the COA 2018 annual report.

The auditors said the execution orders on notices of disallowance issued to several officials and employees of the Provincial Government were not enforced against the liable employee.

This practice violated Sec. 7 of the 2009 Rules and Regulations on the Settlement of Accounts, which caused delays in recovery of government funds that could be utilized for other priority and development projects of the Province.

Disallowance notices have been issued to several Capitol personnel as early as 2009. Some notices of disallowance have not been settled for about 673 days from the day the disallowance was issued.

Replying to the issue, the acting provincial treasurer admitted their lapses in not complying with auditors’ notices of disallowance due to “voluminous” transactions in their office.

The provincial treasurer admitted continued releases of salaries and compensation even to those who have pending disallowance notices.

That was due to lack of records that should have been maintained to show that a certain employee was notified of their obligation.

The salaries of the Capitol employees who were ordered to return the public fund were continually released.

COA records revealed that the disallowance notices were issued as early as 2016. Thus, the provincial treasurer and other concerned officials were already aware of the issue but opted to ignore the case.

In the annual report, the Provincial Capitol and the Provincial Accounting Office formulated and implemented a policy to ensure recovery of disallowance notices.

“The enforcement of disallowance notices means that funds due to the government will be recovered. The delay in the enforcement will also delay the formulation and implementation of projects,” COA said.

The auditors vowed not to allow a single person or group of individuals to solely benefit from the government fund.

“It is inherent that when the fund was disbursed, the persons liable were able to benefit therefrom, thus it is just and fair that when the disallowance becomes final and executory, a timely refund of the same should be made,” the report said.

Since there was no willingness to promptly refund the amount due, the auditors said the governor should strictly enforce the disallowance notices by withholding the amounts due from the salaries or other compensation of person liable.