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Capitol cash advances: P140m

By LITO RULONA and NITZ ARANCON
Correspondents .

WHEN Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano assumed his post in the capitol in 2013, he promised that his administration would never resort to cash advances.

Yet a Commission on Audit (COA) report on the books of the capitol shows that the promise was not kept, and the unliquidated cash advances accumulated to P140.227 million under Emano’s watch.

This information is contained in the 2018 annual audit report on the provincial government, a copy of which was sent by COA director for northern Mindanao Celso Vocal to Emano on March 22, 2019. The governor’s office received it on May 21, 2019.

State auditor Gina Perpetua Baul, leader of the audit team, said that last year alone, the capitol had P18.062 million of unliquidated cash advances as of Dec. 31, 2018.

But even before that, the capitol already had P122.165 million in cash advances that have remained unsettled.

At least four people were named in the COA report as having been granted cash advances in 2018: Luis Buot III, Jeffrey Saclot, Barlisan Belly, Jener Alaba, and Claudita Baliton.

Saclot is the provincial tourism officer; Barlisan Belly is with the provincial budget office; Jener Alaba is with the provincial  barangay affairs office; and Claudita Baliton is the provincial budget officer.

Collectively, they received P4.988 million which, according to auditors, was in excess of their maximum cash accountability.

Auditors said the five could only receive collective cash advances of P3.700 million based on the rules.

Of the five, Saclot had the most number of cash advances last year: P300 thousand on June 20, 2018; P2 million on Sept. 20, 2018; and P640 thousand on Oct. 2, 2018.

Baliton ranked second with a cash advance of P1,028,200 on Sept. 14, 2018.

The audit team noted that the cash advances were in excess of the approved bond, exposing public funds at risk of loss.

These cash advances, the audit team said, were made in violation of Section 4.8 of Treasury Circular no. 02-2009 dated Aug. 6, 2009. 

“Cash advances in excess of authorized maximum cash accountability disregarded existing law, rules and regulations as mentioned. Possible losses on cash advances may not be recovered,” reads a portion of the report.

Auditors said the acting provincial accountant did not provide any information regarding the capitol’s actions on the outstanding cash advances, and two letters sent by them to request for information remained unanswered.

“Findings on unliquidated cash advances were frequently featured in the Annual Audit Reports, yet non-compliance with the regulations persisted. This condition affected not only the fair presentation of the Financial Statements but the presumption of regularity of the transactions as well,” reads part of the report.

Baul said that the provincial accountant should strictly monitor the liquidation of the cash advances, and immediately send demand letters.

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