CATBALOGAN CITY -- The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from service of former Llorente, Eastern Samar mayor Tito Codoy Jr. for grave misconduct.
Codoy's retirement benefits were also forfeited, and he was barred from taking civil service examinations and disqualified from working in any government office.
In case of separation from service, the Ombudsman said the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to the respondent’s one-year salary.
The penalties were imposed, as the Ombudsman found out that Codoy made eight trips to Manila and Tacloban from September 2013 to March 2014 without written permissions or travel authority from the governor of Eastern Samar.
Notwithstanding the lack of authority, Codoy sought reimbursement and received P81,954.04 as travel expenses.
But Codoy said he informed the Office of the Governor about his trips, but his travel orders were not approved.
He said the travels were deemed approved because the governor failed to act on his communications within four working days.
He also said that the travels were necessary as “they provided more opportunities and national government support to the municipality, especially in its rehabilitation and recovery in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.”
The Ombudsman, however, junked Codoy's contention that his trips were deemed approved, as it is clear that under Section 96 of the Local Government Code, mayors of component cities and municipalities shall secure the permission of the governor concerned for any travel outside the province.
“As respondent’s travels were unauthorized, he could not be entitled to receive travel allowances. Hence, his reimbursements for his travel expenses are illegal. These numerous infractions are tantamount to grave misconduct,” the Ombudsman decision stated.
It added that Codoy's insistence on the urgency and benefits of his travels cannot exculpate him from any liability for violating the law, as the requirement for travel authority allows no exceptions.
“It is unbelievable why respondent had to leave his devastated town for Manila for a total of 33 days from December 3, 2013 to May 5, 2014 to, by his claim, follow up submitted documents and request for funding of projects,” the Ombudsman said.
In a separate administrative case, the Ombudsman also found Codoy guilty of simple misconduct, thus he was ordered suspended for one month and one day.
The penalty, however, was converted into a fine equivalent to his one month and one day salary in view of his separation from service.
The suspension was made after Codoy’s official vehicle was apprehended on July 14, 2013 in a mall in Tacloban City, Leyte. Inside the vehicle were Codoy’s relatives who were fetched at the Tacloban airport by driver Joseph Ty.
Codoy failed to present any trip ticket to show that the government vehicle was used for official business.
Under Commission on Audit Circular 75-6, the proper procedure for official travel using a government vehicle provides that the personnel must request the use of the vehicle by accomplishing a trip ticket form in two copies, stating the name of the driver, purpose and destination of the travel; the trip ticket must be duly approved by the official authorizing the travel; and one copy of the trip ticket shall be surrendered upon departure to the guard on-duty of the motorpool with the other copy to be retained by the driver.
It is also required that the trip ticket authorizing the use of the vehicle should be displayed on the windshield or other conspicuous place on the vehicle. (SunStar Philippines)