MORE TOWN FUNDS MISSING?: Treasurer in ‘mystery heist’ restricted, under probe

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Provincial Administrator Atty.  Rayfrando Diaz has directed the former municipal treasurer of Isabela town to explain some financial discrepancies attributed to her by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Diaz issued a show cause order to Nenette Escarda to explain the findings of the COA Audit Team R16-04 dated January 31, 2023.

The findings pointed to some purported irregularities in cash and accounts entrusted to Escarda when she was still municipal treasurer:

-Collections in the amount of P6,629,146.18 as of January 20, 2023 per cashbook remain undeposited; and

-Cash advances in the total amount of P972,000 remain unliquidated as of the cut-off date.

Escarda was given five days to answer the show cause order.

Diaz said Tuesday that Escarda was recalled to the capitol, but she will not be allowed anymore to perform her former duties.

He confirmed to reporters that Escarda is an employee of the provincial government who was detailed to Isabela town after Mayor Irene Montilla asked for a replacement after the previous municipal treasurer retired.

Diaz also said that there is still an ongoing audit of the municipal treasury amid reports that there could be more municipal funds missing.

In a blotter report in January 2023, Escarda claimed that her house was ransacked and declared as missing Isabela’s municipal funds amounting to P2.6 million in cash, and P3.8 million in checks.

Diaz said he was surprised by the incident considering that Escarda is 60 years old and about to retire.

Escarda served as Isabela’s municipal treasurer for two years.

“We are surprised nga natabo ni, but again, things like this happen at the most unexpected time with the most unexpected people. That’s why it is a little bit disappointing, and frustrating because despite all the things we do for employees, giving them full benefits under the law, all the support, may ara gid nga gakatabo parehas sini. Ano pa ang kulang?” Diaz said.

Diaz said the outcome of the Commission on Audit (COA) investigation will determine if they will file charges against Escarda.

“COA is in the position to do the auditing and come up with the fact-finding conclusion to the investigation so that it can also serve as the basis to what the Provincial Legal Office can charge if any, against our employee,” Diaz said.

Diaz said he met with Escarda who went to him and asked for forgiveness as she didn’t mean for it to happen.

He further said that Escarda will just have to do tasks assigned to her by her superior and will not be allowed to have anything to do with collection or cash remittances or payouts.

Earlier, Provincial Legal Office head Atty. Alberto Nellas said the PLO will probe the missing cash and checks owned by the municipal government of Isabela.

Nellas also said that the Isabela Police Station also submitted an incident report, as well as the Commission on Audit report.

“It’s a cause for deeper investigation,” Nellas said.

Nellas also said that the PLO will only investigate the administrative side of the case, and the findings will be submitted to Mayor Montilla.