AT least 100 government officials and employees, some of them former heads of government-owned and -controlled organizations (GOCCs), failed to liquidate P4 billion cash advances. They are facing malversation charges at the Office of the Ombudsman, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
COA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan as of 2011 there are about P5 billion unliquidated cash advances and fund transfers made by government officials and employee or downloaded to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSO) and government agencies.
Such fund transfers are illegal because under the law, government agencies are barred from downloading monies to NGOs, except for local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“There are many of these instances, not only to NGOs but the whole gamut of CSOs, government agencies, government employees and others,” Tan told members of the Senate committee on finance.
The COA has asked all individuals responsible for cash advances and transfers to return the money or liquidated it.
Those who fail to comply will be included in the complaint that will be filed by COA before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Besides GOCC heads, heads of some government agencies will be included in the charge sheet.
But the COA chief admitted that they are verifying if all the persons concerned are still alive or not.
“In law there is a presumption, if you are entrusted with money, you are accountable for some money and then you don’t liquidate or account for it within the period there is already a presumption that the money was malversed,” Tan told reporters.
She admitted that it will be a nightmare for the Ombudsman if all officials and employees with unliquidated funds will be charged so they agreed to set a threshold amount to limit the number of respondents.
“If the unliquidated amount is P1 million and above, we will include it on the compliant to be filed at the Ombudsman but if the amount is less than P1 million we will work it out with the civil service commission on the assumption that they are still working in government,” the COA chief explained.
“We just hope that what we are doing now, we are sending a clear message to everyone that you cannot get away with this forever,” she added.
The unliquidated cash advances covers transactions held up to December 31, 2011.