COA: No basis for prosecutors’ allowances-A A +A
Friday, October 26, 2012
THE monthly stipends that the Cebu Provincial Government gave to five prosecutors from the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor totaling to P630,000 last year lacked supporting documents, state auditors revealed.
The monthly allowances of Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane and four of his assistants were made without any assignment order or documents to prove their assignment to the province, the Commission on Audit (COA) said in its three-page audit observation memorandum.
The assignment order is proof that the prosecutors rendered actual legal services to the Provincial Government.
The COA report stated that Gubalane received P12,500 from January to December 2011 or a total of P150,000 for the entire year.
Prosecutors Vicente Mañalac, Graeme June Elmido, Alain Gallego and Raul Cristoria each received monthly stipend of P10,000 from January to December 2011 or a total of P480,000.
The prosecutors received monthly stipends from the cities of Mandaue and Talisay until state auditors suspended their allowances early this year.
COA deferred the release of P1.146 million for prosecutors’ allowances by the Mandaue City Government for lack of documentary proof that the fiscals served the city.
The deferment of the stipend prompted Elmido to a file declaratory relief petition against government auditors. The petition is pending before the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City.
State auditors also issued a notice of suspension to Talisay City Mayor
Socrates Fernandez to stop the granting of allowances to the prosecutors amounting to P125,500.
The payments made, the auditors said, were not supported with an assignment order or any document to prove that the fiscals were assigned in Talisay City.
State auditors said a notice “operates as a temporary disallowance.”
It informed the fiscals to comply with the requirements to prove that the transaction is legitimate. If the fiscals fail to comply with the requirements within 90 days, the suspension automatically turns into a disallowance.
Once the COA issues a disallowance notice, those involved in the transaction will be ordered to return the amount to the concerned government agency.
Gubalane told reporters he would not answer questions related to the allowances.
But in his reply to the COA notice, Gubalane said the fiscals’ stipend was provided “voluntarily and legally through valid appropriations and ordinances” of the local government units.
So the prosecutors received their monthly stipend “in good faith,” Gubalane said.
In the audit observation memo addressed to Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and other Capitol officials, state auditors Barbara Ann Aloba and Naomi Medici pointed out that the payrolls for prosecutors’ stipend were not supported with certifications from other provincial, city or municipal accountants.
A certification from the Regional Prosecution Office would have shown the appropriate monthly allowances of the prosecutors, who are not supposed to get stipends amounting to more than 50 percent of their basic pay.
The auditors also said the authority issued by the governor for the monthly rates of honoraria to Gubalane and his assistants was not sufficient basis to collect their allowances. This was because the incentives given to the prosecutors were charged to the lump sum budget for non-office expenditures, they added.
“Since the budget did not specifically state the operating expenses to be covered, the claims should have been supported with a Sanggunian (Provincial Board) resolution authorizing the payment of incentive allowances,” the auditors said.
State auditors found that the payroll was not certified by the provincial accountant, which violates COA Circular 2006-002.
“If not corrected, the above observation may result in irregular disbursement of government funds,” the auditors warned. Auditors asked Capitol to furnish them a certification from the provincial accountant within 15 days.
COA recommended that Capitol officials submit an assignment order and certifications from the province, city or municipality stating that the prosecutors are receiving monthly stipends not exceeding to their monthly wages.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 26, 2012.