Lawmaker seeks raps vs gov’t officials with unliquidated cash advances
MANILA, Philippines–An administration lawmaker is urging Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to charge 100 government officials and employees, including executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), for “embezzling” P5 billion in taxpayer money.
Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said a Commission on Audit (COA) report showing that these state personnel had failed to liquidate cash advances totaling P5 billion over the past 10 years was proof the funds went to their pockets.
“The legal presumption is as clear as day. Under the Revised Penal Code, if you are a public officer and you’ve been advanced cash, and you fail to account for the money, then you must have put it to personal use,” Romulo said.
Romulo has filed House Bill No. 1287, which has made failure to liquidate cash advances prima facie proof of embezzlement.
“The failure to settle a cash advance will be sufficient evidence that the recipient pocketed the money, unless the proof is rebutted. This means the Office of the Ombudsman may already initiate a criminal charge for malversation of funds,” he said.
If found guilty of malversation of public funds, violators face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, perpetual disqualification from public office and a fine equal to the sum misused.
Under his bill, Romulo proposes that government officials and employees liquidate their advances not longer than six months after utilization.
Romulo proposed the liquidation of advances for salaries and wages within five days after each 15th day of the month; advances for petty operating expenses and field operating expenses within 20 days after the end of the year; advances for special operations, and operating expenses or purchases of supplies, materials of over P100,000 within 20 days after completion of the operation or delivery and acceptance of supplies, materials and the like;
Advances for local travel within five days upon the officer’s return to official station; and advances for foreign travel within 60 days upon return to official station.
Under a COA circular, a cash advance is settled either by returning the money if unspent, or by presenting vouchers, with details as to the items paid for, which must be in accord with the purpose for which the money was released.
In addition, liquidating a cash advance must be backed by proper receipts and other evidence of payment, subject to the result of a post-examination by an auditor.
Early this year, COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan told the Senate blue ribbon committee that her first act in office two years ago was to make a final demand on the unliquidated cash advances made by government agencies and GOCCs.
Pulido-Tan, however, did not name the 100 government officials and employees who made unliquidated cash advances and fund transfers to nongovernment organizations, civil society organizations and government agencies.
She said the COA would focus on individuals who had more than P1 million in unliquidated cash advances.
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