Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the dismissal from the service of six auditors from the Commission on Audit (COA) after finding them administratively liable for allegedly receiving additional compensation and bonuses from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) from 2006 to 2010.
Ordered dismissed for grave misconduct were state auditors Juanito Daguno Jr., Proceso Saavedra, Teresita Tam, Corazon Cabotage, Evangeline Sison and Vilma Tiongson, as well as data machine operators Violeta Gamil and Roberto Villa.
“They were also perpetually disqualified for reemployment in the government service with cancelation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement on Friday.
In addition, the office found ground to file a graft case before the Sandiganbayan against COA executives Edna Anical, Thelma Baldovino, Evelyn de Leon, Nestorio Ferrera, Zoharayda Obog, Ligaya Principio, Paulino Sarmiento and Jesusa Punsalan, as well as Daguno, Gamil, Saavedra, Tam, Villa, Cabotage, Sison and Tiongson in connection with the multimillion peso grant of additional compensation and bonuses.
Morales also ordered the suspension of LWUA executives Lorenzo Jamora, Wilfredo Feleo, Orlando Hondrade and Daniel Landingin without pay for six months after finding them guilty of simple misconduct.
The penalty of suspension is convertible to a fine equivalent to six months’ salary in case the official is already separated from the service.
“Investigation disclosed that Jamora, et al. approved and signed Letters of Instructions directing the issuance of checks covering the irregular bonuses for LWUA and COA personnel from 2006 to 2010 totaling P25 million,” the Ombudsman’s office said in the statement.
Jamora, et al.’s “stamp of approval and authorization for fund disbursement as payment for the questioned benefits is a clear transgression” of the Salary Standardization Law and other COA regulations, it added.
Citing records of the COA Human Resource Office, the office said Anical received P789,000; Baldovino, P886,000; De Leon, P517,000; Daguno Jr., P615,000; Ferrera, P961,000; Gamil, P834,000; Obog, P658,000; Principio, P642,000; Punsalan, P602,000; Saavedra, P692,000; Sarmiento, P703,000; Tam, P592,000; Villa, P650,000; Cabotage, P542,000; Sison, P183,000; and Tiongson, P164,000.
“[T]he amounts given were huge and arbitrary,” the office said in its joint resolution.
A COA machine operator assigned at LWUA received as much as P140,000 and P43,000 in November 2006 alone, the office pointed out.
“They each received bonuses twice a month in November 2006, September and December 2007, September and December 2008, and March 2010,” it said.
Further, its ruling said “their patent disregard of the existing policy of their own institution against the practice of receiving additional compensation cannot be deemed a mere lapse of judgment. Respondents, being state auditors and employees of COA itself, are presumed to know the prohibition.”
“The COA auditors and employees were obviously motivated by malicious intent to favor self-interest at the expense of the public,” Morales said. “Their acts are contrary to accepted rules of right and duty, honesty and good morals.”