THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas suspended Alcoy Mayor Michael Angelo Sestoso for one month and a day for failing to settle his travel expenses to Boracay in 2010 amounting to P21,076.
Graft Investigator Eleanor Tayad-de Mira found Sestoso liable of simple neglect of duty.
“There is… no showing that respondent liquidated the amount with said period,”said de Mira in her six-page resolution.
The mayor, for his part, declined to issue a statement since he has yet to receive a copy of the order.
However, he said his lawyers are complying with requirements.
He also said he will do whatever is required of him.
The case stemmed from the filing of complaint by the ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office, which accused Sestoso of failing to liquidate his cash advance for a trip to Boracay five years later.
Sestoso was vice mayor when he and other municipal officials attended the Quarterly National Executive Officers and National Board Meeting and Formal Turnover of Responsibilities in the island in June 2010.
The P21,076 was for his traveling expenses and registration fee.
Pursuant to the government audit rule, a public official is mandated to liquidate cash advances within 30 days from return to office.
In his report, Municipal Accountant Artemio Cabugas said Sestoso’s cash advance remained unsettled as of Aug. 31, 2015.
Sestoso said he used the money for expenses in attending the board meeting.
But the mayor said he liquidated it, adding that he already submitted all supporting documents.
That was why he was surprised when the anti-graft office ordered him to submit his counter-affidavit to the charges filed against him over the matter.
But when he checked records at the municipal treasurer’s office, Sestoso said he was told some of his documents were missing.
Granting he failed to settle his cash advance, Sestoso said there was no demand for him to liquidate it.
Of all the cash advances incurred by other officials, Sestoso said he was singled out when his supposed cash advance was a “minimal amount.”
The mayor said his offense was a “simple non-culpable oversight” and that he had no intention of not settling his cash advance.
In the resolution, de Mira said Sestoso should have liquidated his cash advance within the required 30 days.
Apart from the suspension, Sestoso will also face trial in court for alleged violation of Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code (Failure of Accountable Officer to Render Accounts).