By HERBIE GOMEZ
Editor in chief
and NITZ ARANCON
CITY hall yesterday claimed it has already submitted all liquidation documents covering the cash advances made during the six-year-old Moreno administration to the central office of the Commission on Audit (COA).
Maricel Rivera, city hall spokesperson, said, “According to our accounting office, liquidation documents were already submitted to COA Manila for review.”
The claim was made in response to a Gold Star Daily story based on a COA document that showed that city hall’s cash advances ballooned to P293.874 million as of Dec. 31, 2018.
In a phone interview, city accountant Beda Joy Elot said the liquidation papers submitted by city hall exclude documents on cash advances made before Mayor Oscar Moreno assumed as the city’s leader in 2013.
Elot alleged that over 50 percent or more than P150 million of the P293.874 million were made when the late Vicente Emano was mayor of the city. She said documents would show that the late former mayor himself had unliquidated cash advances.
She said city hall had written to the former mayor about the unliquidated cash advances but there was no reply. Emano died this May.
In COA’s 2018 annual report, state auditors stated: “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.”
Elot said there were some delays in the submission of liquidation papers pertaining to cash advances because of stricter government audit rules.
For instance, she said, expenses made using the local executive’s confidential funds have to pass the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) first before these could be submitted to the COA.
Elot said another cause of delay were social services payouts, particularly those that involve the elderly. She said there were times when it was necessary to locate beneficiaries only to find out that they have died.
Meanwhile, Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. said cash advances are not irregularities, and are unavoidable in government.
“Pananglitan, na-ay dali-on nga trabaho sa pag-himog drainage system para dali nga masulbad ang baha, puwede ang cash advance,” Lao said.
But he said government officials and employees who made cash advances have to make it a point to account for the expenses on time.
Lao also pointed out that the cash advances made were sourced from items in city hall’s annual budget.
Former vice mayor Antonio Soriano said cash advances in local governments are allowed based on laws.
“Pananglitan, usa ka department head molarga sa Manila para sa iyang official travel, puwede siya mag-cash advance. Pero pag-uli nila, iyang i-liquidate ang iyang nagasto sa iyang plite sa eroplano, iyang hotel ug ka-on. Mag-submit siyag official nga resibo sa accounting office. Mao na dayon kana ang post-audit,” Soriano said.