GOVERNMENT auditors disallowed the release of P545,000 for road maintenance work in Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island and ordered the village chief and three others to give it back immediately.

The Commission on Audit (COA) said it disallowed the amount because barangay officials failed to submit authorization letters and certified photocopies of the identification cards of those who were supposed to have worked on the project.

The ID cards were needed “to validate the inconsistencies of the signatures of the claimants,” read the disallowance notice from State Auditor III Glenn Diano.

He cited COA Circular 2012-003, which explained the guidelines to prevent or disallow “irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant and unconscionable expenditures.

Named in the COA disallowance notice were Talisay Barangay Captain Adoracion Cabrera, barangay councilors Joanes Paulo Esgana and Gerardo Cabrera, and barangay treasurer Regalado Landao.

COA said that the captain was liable for approving the payment and certifying the transaction as valid.

The councilors were found liable for certifying that an appropriation was available. Esgana chaired the barangay’s committee on appropriations until 2013, and Councilor Cabrera replaced him after that.

At least 152 workers were supposedly assigned to the project.

Esgana, when sought for his reaction, said his job was only to certify that the fund was available and sign for the release of funds. He said it was the barangay captain who hired the workers and took charge of distributing their payments.

Sun.Star texted the barangay chief but received no response.

The road maintenance work started in January 2013 and ended in July 2014. Its payroll showed the names of 152 male and female workers, most of whom got P1,000 or P2,000 each, though some received amounts ranging from P12,500 to P19,500 each.