5 Davao collectors ‘skimmed’ P14M from city funds

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Monday, January 20, 2014


DAVAO CITY -- City Administrator Melchor Quitain finally named the five City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) personnel who skimmed more than P14 million from the city’s collections.

Based on the 27-page decision issued by the investigation committee and signed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the five who belong to the cash and receipts division of the CTO are: Jane M. Paguidopon, Brenda R. Nirza, Rosalie B. Remon, Paul Justen B. Almonte, and Analiza S. Mesa, all collectors.

"Meron pang tatlo. I will just wait for the submission of the fact-finding investigation to my office," Quitain said in a press conference at the City Hall on Monday.

City Administrator Melchor Quitain
DAVAO CITY. Reporters swarm around City Administrator Melchor Quitain to gather additional details about the five employees of the City Treasurer's Office who were found to have skimmed P14 million from the city’s collections. (Seth delos Reyes)

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The complaint against the five was first made by City Treasurer Rodrigo Riola.

A copy of the formal investigation report showed that the total amount of misappropriated and/or not properly remitted money reached P14,325,374.87.

Quitain said the money involved covered the collection of business taxes from January to June 2013.

However, respondent Almonte made a confession before the panel that the "practice" has been done by them as far back as the year 2010.

The five were found guilty to be administratively liable for serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, falsification of public documents, and/or serious neglect of duty, inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service.

Each of them was slapped with “penalties of dismissal from service with cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examinations.”

All of them were also found to be "administratively liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service that also carries the penalty of dismissal from the service as well as the administrative disabilities and/or accessory penalties that come with the same."

The report was signed by the investigating panel composed of lawyers Tristan Dwight P. Domingo, Jhopee Avanceña-Agustin, and City Legal Office (CLO) head Osmundo Villanueva Jr. as the chair, as well as Quitain, and Mayor Duterte on January 17.

The investigating panel pointed out that Paguidopon is the "primary actor in the grand scheme of misappropriating" the total amount of money involved from the city's coffers.

"Paguidopon's inexcusable and serious negligence was very indispensable, which led to the misappropriation of all the money involved in these instant cases. She is playing headless chicken as if she was so clueless and incompetent in overseeing four scheming collectors [that] led to the city government in losing millions of government collections," the report reads.

The other four respondents were found to have acted in conspiracy with Paguidopon.

Respondent Nirza misappropriated the tax collected from 30 receipts that has an unaccounted sum of P3,832,010. All the receipts bore her name as the collector who issued these.

Respondent Remon has an indispensable participation for the misappropriated sum of P5,888,075.50.

A total of nine receipts in non-numerical sequence or order to evidence payments were made to respondent Almonte by taxpayers.

Almonte even "voluntarily admitted" during the formal investigation that the sum of P3,390,929.49 was all given by him to Paguidopon for the latter's personal use.

"Although it is noteworthy to point out that Almonte paid P350,000 in an attempt to settle the audited shortage amount, this act is of no moment as he admitted that he knowingly, willfully and unlawfully gave his collections to Paguidopon in violation of the law and the rules," the report reads.

Lastly, respondent Mesa misappropriated or used her collections amounting to P1,214,359,24 for personal use, and she admitted this during the formal investigation conducted by the committee.

She used 28 receipts in violation of the rule on following the strict numerical sequence or order requirement in the issuance of receipts to try to conceal or the reporting and remittance.

"We are not happy. The amount involved, which is P14 million, is almost unbelievable," Quitain told reporters in an interview.

He said the respondents are given 15 days to file their motion for reconsideration.

"The decision will be given to their lawyer. In the meantime, the five are under preventive suspension," he said.

Quitain also said that aside from the five, three others are being subjected to probe.

"I already informed the CTO to submit to me the fact-finding investigation. We will also file cases against the three. More or less, it has the same nature of offense," he said.

According to Quitain, City Treasurer Rodrigo Riola brought the matter to their attention.

Riola, on the other hand, said he was not informed that the final decision against the five was already out, as the committee has not given him any copy.

He said they were able to find out the anomaly when there was already a failure in remitting the collection.

"Nag-conduct mi og cash count, nakita namo nga there were unremitted collections, mao tong mihimo tag imbestigasyon ug gipasa nato sa City Legal Office for further investigation (We conducted a cash count and found out that there were unremitted collections that's why we conducted a probe and turned it over to the City Legal Office)," Riola said. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 21, 2014.

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