• COA demands P16-M from consul


    The Commission on Audit (COA) demanded a Philippine consul stationed in the capital of Sri Lanka to remit his P16.67-million due if he wants to avoid replacement and any legal action taken against him.

    In the audit report of COA on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), state auditors disclosed that an unnamed consul general in Colombo has only remitted once his collections since he took his position.

    The audit team said that the consul “was appointed in December 1993 and was promoted to Honorary Consul General on June 27, 2002.”

    The non-compliance of the consul was traced in April 2010 when the ambassador to Dhaka, Bangladesh reported to DFA that the consul “was not remitting his collections” totaling 39.9 million rupees or P15.26 million despite repeated request.

    This amount included March 2001 to February 2010 collections, but not “any remittances made by the [consul]before March 2001,” the audit read.

    The embassy then called the attention of the consul to remit his collections from 2001 onwards and to get appropriate clearance from Sri Lankan authorities including its Central Bank.

    In October 2010, the consul transmitted to the embassy a copy of the letter addressed to the Sri Lankan Central Bank, requesting authority to remit to the embassy the collections for January to September 2010.

    The embassy then asked the consul to include in his request the remittance of collections since the opening of PHCG office to December 2009.

    In a letter dated November 9, 2010, the embassy updated the consul and asked him comment on his reported non-remittance.

    Apparently, the embassy has no records on the actions taken by the consul. Neither there were any records on the consul’s request to the Sri Lankan Central Bank nor a copy of the authority from the bank.

    Quoting the status report of the embassy, the audit revealed that the last communication from the consul was on November 9, 2010, informing the embassy that he got in touch with Sri Lankan officials for the remittance.

    However, the coverage of the remittance was “not mentioned.”

    As of July 2012, the total amount collected by the consul already reached 60.24 million rupees or $453,000.69.

    From May 2011 to June 2012, a total of $55,080 was remitted, leaving a balance of $397,920.69 or P16.67 million, COA said.

    “The total collection by the consul could be more than 60.25 million rupees since the amount did not include collections from the time he assumed office in December 1993 up to February 2001,” the audit team said.

    “Although several letters were sent to the [consul]for the remittance of his collections, no immediate action was taken by him,” COA added.

    Despite the no full remittance was made, the embassy chose to extend the term of the consul, which the approved DFA for another three years starting August 1, 2011, COA reported.

    In their defense, the embassy said that the consul will not be appointed again if an embassy in Colombo was opened before August 1, 2011 or a replacement was found.

    Since both did not pan out, “the current [consul]is still needed in carrying out functions” in Sri Lanka, the embassy stated.

    The consul also has to address the needs of Filipinos both in Sri Lanka and in Maldives; “hence, they [embassy]recommended the renewal of the appointment of the honorary consul.”

    COA asked the embassy in Bangladesh to force the consul to account all his collections from the time he assumed office and to remit his collections.

    If not complied with, COA said that he should be replaced and appropriate legal action should be taken against him.

    The embassy should also “stop sending official receipts to the [consul]and instruct him to refrain from collecting fees,” auditors told embassy officials.

    The embassy replied that they already removed the consul’s services for the Filipino community in Maldives and cases involving overseas Filipino workers. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON


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