Audit body affirms university’s P3-M disallowance

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Friday, July 27, 2012


WEST Visayas State University (WVSU) suffered a double setback in a recent ruling of the Commission on Audit (COA).

With over P3 million at stake in disallowed cash grant long enjoyed by WVSU recipients, COA affirmed its disallowance and held university executives and workers jointly liable.

The cash grant is dubbed “Health Care Maintenance Allowance (HCMA).” As such, full refund is now ordered starting off with the former president, Dr. Lourdes Aranador. Worse yet, not only did COA Central Office affirmed the disallowance but did so with modification. This means that supposed good faith of recipients earlier argued have been scrapped and everybody now particularly the approving officials are severally liable to pay.

The decision was penned by COA Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan and Commissioners Juan Espino Jr. and Heide Mendoza as per Decision 2012 045.

“Records show that pursuant to the Employees Suggestions, Incentive and Award System (ESIAS), the WVSU Board Of Regents (BOR) granted HCMA to its officials and employees the amount of P3,096,600.20. On post-audit, the grant was disallowed….,” excerpts of the discussions on the seven-page COA decision stated.

“This Commission finds the disallowance proper but includes as persons liable therefor the officials and employees of the WVSU who received the HCMA,” it added.

To note, Dr. Aranador, in appealing the disallowance, sought reconsideration with the matter elevated to COA higher-ups.

It was in February 18, 2010 when COA issued another Notice of Disallowance (ND) to affirm its November 20, 2000 order.

COA said the P3-million expenditure “has no legal basis…thus, it was indeed received through mistake and the employees-recipients of the same are mandated by law to return the undue payment.”

The BOR’s move was also found by the commission “inconsistent with the presumption of good faith.”

“Consequently, when the members of the BOR authorized the grant of the HCMA and the officials of WVSU facilitated the implementation of the same, knowing that it was without authority from the Office of the President or the Department of Budget of Management, their acts manifested the absence of good faith,” COA said.

Liability of the approving officials, COA added, is sanctioned by Section 43 of the Administrative Code on the provisions of liability for illegal expenditures.

“Wherefore premises considered, COA Decision 2010-015 dated February 18, 2010 affirming the disallowance of HCMA is hereby affirmed but with medications with regard to the persons liable in the ND to also include the employees who received the HCMA. Accordingly, the members of the BOR, officers of the WVSU, who authorized and approved the grant of the HCMA and the employees-recipients are held jointly and severally liable to pay the balance of the disallowance amounting to P2,118,550.20,” the COA decision stated.

Held liable with Aranador are BOR officials chairman Roberto Padua, former senator Tessie Aquino Oreta as represented by former Antique governor Sally Perez, former congressman Dante Liban represented by lawyer Ed Penaredondo, a former director of the National Economic Development Authority, lawyer Cynthia Cabangal Ng representing the faculty, businesswoman Grace Tan who was then the students’ representative, and private sector representatives Reynaldo Gustilo and Virginia Segovia, and alumni regent lawyer Donnie Garcia. (Florence F. Hibionada)

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