Audit commission suspends fiscals’ stipend-A A +A
Sunday, April 29, 2012
CEBU CITY -- State auditors have told the Talisay City Government to suspend the monthly stipend given to six prosecutors detailed at the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor for lack of documents that would prove that they actually render services to the city.
The Commission on Audit (COA) in Central Visayas issued a notice of suspension to Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez on the allowances received by Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane and five of his assistants.
Gubalane and six other prosecutors had also been receiving separate allowances from the Mandaue City Government until COA had the release of their stipend suspended.
“The amount of P125,500 was suspended because the payments were not supported with an assignment order or any document to prove that claimants are assigned in Talisay City and a monthly certified list by the Talisay City Fiscal’s Office cases handled by the aforesaid officials as prosecutors,” the suspension notice read.
State auditors said a notice “operates as a temporary disallowance.”
It informed the claimants to comply with the requirements to prove that the transaction is legitimate.
If the claimants fail to comply with the requirements within 90 days, the suspension automatically slips into a disallowance in which the auditor has to issue a notice of disallowance.
Once the COA issues a disallowance notice, those involved in the transaction will be ordered to return the amount to the government agency concerned.
In a text message to Sun.Star Cebu Saturday night, Gubalane said they “have long answered the notice of suspension from COA.”
He did not elaborate.
COA suspended the release of P1.14 million for their monthly stipend last February for the City officials’ failure to submit the accomplishment reports as proof that the Gubalane and the other recipients are serving Mandaue City.
In the notice of suspension dated February 10, the government auditors also issued a similar notice of suspension to Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes.
“The amount (P1,146,000) was suspended in audit due to the lack of an office order or any document showing that the officials and personnel of the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor were assigned to or stationed in Mandaue City for the periods wherein they were paid the monthly allowances,” the notice of suspension read.
In his reply to the COA notice, Prosecutor Gubalane said the grant of allowances by the Mandaue City Government was made “voluntarily and legally through valid appropriations and ordinances.”
Subsequently, the prosecutors received their monthly stipend “in good faith,” he said.
The state auditors, in their comment, said the prosecutor’s justification was not “tenable.”
They said they needed to verify if the monthly stipends did not exceed limits set under Republic Act 10071, a law that strengthens and rationalizes the National Prosecution Service.
“The judges and prosecutors who hold office in the territorial jurisdiction of Mandue City are entitled to the allowance granted under Section 458 of RA 7160. However, it does not speak of prosecutors assigned at the regional office,” the state auditors said.
The government auditors, in their audit suspension, asked Mandaue City Accountant Nenita Regencia to comply with the requirements. Otherwise, the items suspended in audit that are not settled in 90 days shall be disallowed.
In the notice of suspension issued to the Talisay City Government, COA pointed out that the release of stipend has to comply with Section 458 of the Local Government Code.
It states that “when the finances of the City Government allow, provide for additional allowances and other benefits to judges, prosecutors, public elementary and high school teachers, and other National Government officials stationed in or assigned to the city.”
State auditors also found out that the disbursement vouchers were not supported with certifications from the city or municipal accountants where the benefits were paid.
The government auditors asked Talisay City officers to comply with the requirements.
Otherwise, the items suspended in audit that are not settled in 90 days shall be disallowed.
Apart from Gubalane, the other prosecutors whose allowances were suspended are Vicente Mañalac, Graeme June Elmido, Alain Gallego, Raul Cristoria and Annabelle Robles.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she has reservations about prosecutors accepting allowances from local government units.
But she understands the situation of local prosecutors considering the lack of resources they have.
Some local prosecutors believed that receiving allowances from LGUs is legal under the Local Government Code. (GMD/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 29, 2012.