Following reports of unliquidated cash advances reaching P5 billion in 2011 alone, a lawmaker has sought for the filing of malversation of public funds charges against public officials who fail to liquidate cash advances within 180 days.
Rep. Roman Romulo of Pasig filed House Bill 1287 that seeks to amend the Revised Penal Code by providing that the failure of the public officer or employee, who was previously granted a cash advance, to liquidate the same after the purpose for which it was given has been served within the five to 180 days will be a prima facie proof of malversation or misappropriation of the fund received.
Under existing laws, cash advances can be liquidated from five days to 365 days since the cash advance served its purpose. But Presidential Decree 1445 stipulates that a cash advance should be reported and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was given has been served.
The crime of malversation of public funds is committed when a public officer accountable for public funds or property either appropriates public funds, misappropriates public funds or permits other persons to take such public funds or property in partial or as a whole through abandonment and negligence.
“This bill seeks to correct the practice of government officials and employees of disregarding the requirement of laws and regulations of promptly liquidating the cash advances granted to them in pursuit of official business. As a result of such gross disregard of the laws and regulations involving the settlement of cash advances, the financial statement of the government is not fairly presented since there are accounts wherein the amounts were not reflecting correct figures,” Romulo, a lawyer, said in his explanatory note.
“This inaccuracy affects the data gathered by the readers of the financial statements particularly the policy and decision makers in the government,” the solon added.
Under Romulo’s proposal, cash advances for salaries should be liquidated within five days after each 15th of the month pay day or end of the month pay day, while cash advances for petty operating expenses and field operating expenses should be liquidated 20 days after the end of the year.
Likewise, cash advances for special operations and operating expenses or purchases of supplies and/or materials exceeding P100,000 should be liquidated 20 days after the completion of the operation or the delivery and acceptance of the supplies and the like.
Cash advances for government officials’ local travel should be accounted for 15 days after the said official returned to his/her official station, while cash advances for foreign travel should be accounted for 60 days after the concerned government official returned to the Philippines.
Finally, cash advances used for other purposes should be liquidated within six months after the purpose for which the cash advance had been granted or served.
The bill penalizes those found guilty of malversation charges with a jail time of two years to lifetime imprisonment, depending on the amount malversed.
In addition, those found guilty of malversation face perpetual disqualification from public office and a fine equal to the amount of funds or equal to the total value of the property embezzled from government.-