THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has removed from her post a village treasurer of Ronda, Cebu over the allegedly illegal release of P1.48 million in public funds between 2006 to 2007.
Carmelle Baybay-Suson, graft investigation and prosecution officer, dismissed from service Baby Almira Abangan, Libo-o, Ronda barangay treasurer, for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct.
“In issuing the checks without the disbursement vouchers and in failing to render an account for it, respondent committed the administrative offenses (of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct,” read the ombudsman’s decision written by Suson.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Gregoria Villagonzalo, who accused Roel
Carreon, former Libo-o barangay captain, and Abangan of dishonesty.
Carreon allegedly signed checks although he was on vacation from Oct.16 to Dec.31, 2006.
Villagonzalo also alleged that Carreon had P1.5 million unliquidated cash advances.
The ombudsman’s Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office later requested the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the alleged illegal disbursement of the barangay funds of Libo-o.
State auditors found out that the respondents released 117 checks amounting to P2,276, 165.74 without disbursement vouchers, payrolls, and other documents from 2006 to 2007.
In his counter-affidavit, Carreon denied he signed checks although he was on leave.
While he applied for a vacation leave for Norway supposedly from July 15 to Dec. 31, 2006, the trip did not push through because his visa was disapproved by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Thus, Carreon said he did not take an actual leave from office and continued his function as village chief until his term ended in 2007.
For her part, Abangan denied the checks she issued were not supported by disbursement vouchers.
In 2007, she submitted original duplicate copies of the vouchers and their attachments to their village bookkeeper for audit and accounting.
But when she looked for those documents, Abangan said their bookkeeper told her the papers were misplaced.
Abangan attached to her counter-affidavit the disbursement vouchers for the 26 checks she issued.
In the resolution, graft investigator Suson said the respondents cannot be held liable for dishonesty since Carreon’s travel abroad did not actually push through.
“There was no distortion or concealment of truth as there is no evidence to prove that Carreon left the country,” said Suson.
But Suson said the anti-graft office’s investigation showed that about P2,276,165.74 in public funds were released without the disbursement vouchers, payroll and other supporting papers.
Although the respondents presented copies of disbursement vouchers, payrolls and other documents, the ombudsman said those documents covered only 26 checks. At least 55 checks totaling to P1,484, 477.54 remained unaccounted for.
“They deliberately refused to perform their duties and issued 55 checks without the disbursement vouchers and supporting documents,” the ombudsman said.
Carreon escaped administrative liability since he was no longer in service when the complaint was filed on Feb. 26, 2013.
The ombudsman dismissed the complaint against Carreon for lack of jurisdiction.
Apart from dismissal from the service, the ombudsman also forfeited Abangan’s retirement benefits and barred her from working again in government.