THE Department of Education (DepEd) said it has accounted about 70 percent of the P1.6 billion unliquidated cash advances.

DepEd Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs and concurrent spokesman Alberto Muyot said the department is doing everything to account for all the cash advances and the officials responsible for it.

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“Bumaba na sa P467 million ang mga unliquidated cash advances. Patuloy pa itong bababa sa mga susunod na araw at patuloy kaming maga-update sa Ombudsman sa balances at sa aming ginagawang aksyon,” Muyot said.

The DepEd is prepared to comply with all the recommendations of the Office of the Ombudsman on the issue, including submitting a detailed report, accounting of all cash advances, and the action done to “erring” personnel.

Earlier, the DepEd said it will submit to the Ombudsman their initial findings before Friday this week as directed.

Majority of the unliquidated cash advances of the DepEd came from the regional and division offices, which involved revolving funds, petty cash, and payrolls.

But the department defended that this was because the regional and division offices were the implementing units.

When the Ombudsman report came out on Monday, August 16, Muyot said the DepEd has already accounted for about 60 percent or P653 million of the P1.6 billion.

Muyot said since they got the letter from the Ombudsman last August 5, Education Secretary Armin Luistro has already directed all responsible personnel to come up with details regarding the report.

They are currently reviewing the recommendations given by the Ombudsman — one of which is withholding of salaries and money of the officers accountable.

“This recommendation to withhold salaries or money due to officers and employees accountable is already in effect at the central office. We will be implementing that in the regions as well.” Muyot said.

Muyot said they are still investigating whether any DepEd official or personnel are liable, adding that those who will be found responsible will face administrative sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma warned officials and employees with outstanding cash advances to immediately file their liquidation papers.

He ordered the finance division to issue final demand letters to the concerned officials and employees for the settlement of their unliquidated cash advances.

Ledesma noted that failure to comply with the directive will cause the bureau’s payroll section to deduct the cash advances from salaries of those concerned.

On the other hand, the bureau’s finance official clarified that the outstanding cash advances was significantly reduced to only P2.021 million as of August 15.

Elvira Presado, BI finance and management division head, said the Ombudsman’s report that the bureau’s cash advances amounted to P9.88 million pertained to outstanding cash advances as of May 31 this year. This is reflected in a schedule that was then submitted to the Commission on Audit (COA).

She explained that in most cases, cash advances were released to employees while liquidation reports on prior cash advances of the same employees were still being processed.

Presado also initiated the filing of administrative charges, if warranted, against concerned BI officers who may violate the rules and policies on cash advances.

Moreover, the National Police Commission (Napolcom) said majority of its unliquidated cash advances was made by their officials and employees who have already retired, Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) or have long been separated from service.

“Several demand letters have been sent to the subject officials and employees but no response has been received from them so far,” said Napolcom Vice Chair and Executive Officer Eduardo Escueta said.

But Escueta assured the Ombudsman that they are doing everything to account for the persons and their cash advances.

Escueta also said they will also seek the guidance of the Ombudsman on the possible filing of administrative and even criminal cases against individuals who fail to liquidate their cash advances.

Among government agencies with the highest unliquidated cash advances are as follow:

Department of Education P1,614,449,595.32,

Commission on Election P406,029,645.99,

Philippine National Police P313,272,983.64,

Bureau of Jail Management P18,205,473.04,

Bureau of Immigration P9,883,764.02,

National Defense P6,329,521.34,

Bureau of Customs P392,655.87,

Philippine Ports Authority P368,487.67,

National Police Commission P226,889.05

(AH/FP/Sunnex)