By LITO RULONA and NITZ ARANCON
AUDITORS raised the red flag as city hall’s unliquidated cash advances ballooned to P293.874 million as of Dec. 31 2018.
In its 2018 audit report on city hall, the Commission on Audit (COA) said over 50 percent of the unliquidated cash advances or over P151 million may no longer be accounted for because those answerable are no longer with city hall.
“Considering that more than 50% of the total cash advances pertained to unliquidated advances whose accountable officers were employees already separated or out of service, the probability to liquidate their cash advances in the total amount of P151.380 million is very remote since it has been outstanding for more than one year,” reads part of the report.
The auditors said city hall has demanded liquidation from the “immediate former City Mayor” of his cash advances amounting to P150.655 million in confidential funds. City hall claimed it never received the required liquidation.
A copy of the COA report, dated March 28, 2019, was sent by COA regional director Celso Vocal to Mayor Oscar Moreno. The document, signed by state auditor and audit team leader Ma. Glenna Digol-Bernal, was received by the mayor’s office on May 20, 2019.
Reads part of the report: “… the balance of Advances for Operating Expenses-Separated Employees (GF) amounting to P150.655 million pertained to the confidential fund granted to the immediate former City Mayor which comprised of 51.27% of the total balance of P293.874 million for accounts Advances for Operating Expenses and to Officers and Employees.”
COA said the Advances-Special Purpose (GF) amounting to P138.008 million is 46.96 percent of the total advances comprising of the confidential fund of Mayor Moreno amounting to P137.250 million.
Auditors said the non-liquidation of cash advances for operating expenses-special purpose following a lapse of 91 days to over a year “is a manifestation of defiance to existing rules and regulations on the liquidation of cash advance.”
The auditors noted cash advances for social services in the amount of P496 thousand; PUV Operators and Drivers Seminar of P236,750; and other operating expenses in the total amount of P25,013.20.
The audit team said “the non-liquidation of travel and training advances granted to active officers and employees in the total amount of P2.850 million within the prescribed period of 30 days (for local travels) showed an indication of laxity as to enforcement of pertinent provisions of COA Circular No. 2012-001 particularly on the liquidation of travel advances.”
Auditors said the failure to liquidate the total amount of P293.874 million as of Dec. 31, 2018 resulted in the understatement of the corresponding expense accounts while overstating the receivable account, “hence, the said accounts are not fairly presented in the financial statements.”
As to the Moreno administration’s unliquidated special purpose-cash advance, auditors said the corresponding liquidation documents have long been ready for submission except for one lacking requirement which is the certified copy of the accomplishment report and its proof of submission to the interior department.
The audit team stated: “We have recommended that the city government continue to exert efforts to require the accountable officers to liquidate their respective cash advances. If liquidation could no longer be enforced due to unavoidable circumstances, consider filing a request for write-off of unliquidated cash advances for accounts whose accountable officers are already separated or out of service and those accounts which are non-moving for more than five years in accordance with COA Circular No. 2016-005 dated December 19, 2016.”
The team also asked city hall, through its city accounting department, to initiate appropriate action against employees who are still active in the service and with unliquidated cash advances by sending demand letters and requiring immediate liquidation of cash advances on or before March 31, 2019.