COA orders Villafuerte, 3 others to return P24 million
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) ordered former Camarines Sur governor and now 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr and 3 other provincial officials to return P24.75 million in donations made to a nongovernmental organization between 2004 and 2005.
The order comes after COA affirmed in its latest decision the 19 notices of disallowance issued against the transactions.
State auditors also recommended an investigation to be conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman to determine criminal and administrative charges against Villafuerte, provincial budget officer Fortunato Peña, treasurer Mario Alicaway, and accountant Leticia Aliorde.
The recommendation stems from the discovery that the provincial government made 19 cash transfers to Camarines Sur Kaogma Foundation between August 2005 and May 2006.
According to COA, the transaction violated several laws after it was found that the provincial officials themselves were incorporators of the foundation.
Kaoma Foundation entered into a partnership with the local government to promote provincial tourism – particularly the Kaogma Festival.
Officials said the NGO did not profit from transactions. But state auditors said that the provincial government "overstepped the bounds of its authority" when it incorporated and created the NGO.
The Provincial Board's Resolution 224, COA said, had no legal basis.
"The province did not need to create another entity to promote tourism," it added. "It could have simply created a unit within the provincial government or utilized its existing Tourism Office for the purpose."
Villafuerte was Camarines Sur governor from 2004 until 2013. – Rappler.com
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