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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Lessons learned from 1998 theft at Cebu City Treasurer’s Office

LOCAL government units (LGU) should deposit collected funds to their authorized depository banks daily and tighten internal controls.

Cebu City Budget Officer Marietta Gumia said this yesterday when asked about the lessons the City Hall learned when, in 1998, three pay officers from the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) stole millions of money from state coffers.

Stealing money from the treasurer’s office has recently been in the limelight due to the series of burglaries in Cebu Province, involving the LGUs of Compostela, Carmen, Sogod and Pinamungajan and the cities of Toledo and Mandaue.

Compliance

The Cebu Provincial Police Office already considered the separate incidents as inside jobs.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Gumia said the LGU should comply with auditing and accounting rules and regulations to protect their money.

Section 32 of the New Government Accounting System Manual for LGU provides that treasurers or cashiers should deposit intact all collections with the authorized depository banks daily or not later than the next day so public funds will not be exposed to possible loss or misuse.

Also, the Commission on Audit and the Ministry of Finance Joint Circular 1-81 provides that if the LGU’s authorized depository bank is 15 meters or less and the travel time is less than one day and the accumulated collection is P500 or more, the deposits should be daily.

However, if the daily collection is less than P500, the deposit can be made weekly or as soon as the collection reaches P500.

Internal control

Aside from making on-time deposits to the bank, Gumia said another way for LGUs to avoid losing funds is to implement internal control.

Gumia, who was assistant budget officer, was among the city officials who were impleaded in the criminal case against pay officers Rosalina Badana, Luz Gonzales and Cleofe Delute for running off with more than P30 million from City Hall in 1998.

But Gumia, who also became city accountant, said the case against her was dismissed.

Delute was arrested and is now serving a jail term of 18 to 40 years, while Gonzales and Badana remain at large.

After the 1998 incident, Gumia said the City has been releasing employees’ salaries through automated teller machines.

The salaries were previously paid through Badana, Gonzales and Delute who had easy access to huge amounts of money.

In 2004, City Hall collector Rebecca Mahusay, wife of former Hipodromo barangay councilor Federico Mahusay, failed to remit P187,707.95 in miscellaneous fees, barangay remittances and liquidation of cash advances.

She went on a sick leave for a month, but failed to report for work after that, forcing personnel from the treasurer’s office, Commission on Audit, the Civil Security Unit and Internal Control Office to open her vault and conduct a cash examination.  

Mahusay was arrested a year later at the house of her husband’s friend in Basak, Mandaue City.

In 2009, she was found guilty of malversation of public funds.
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