MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) ordered officials and employees of Iloilo City to reimburse unauthorized cash benefits released in 2009 amounting to P46.42 million ($932,577).
In a decision dated December 13, 2017, state auditors affirmed the 2015 ruling that disallowed the payment of Productivity Enhancement Incentives to city personnel.
COA added that P31.43 million ($631,428) of the amount released was from the local government's calamity funds.
The use of calamity funds for other purposes is a violation of Republic Act No. 8185.
A previous notice of disallowance was already issued in August 2010 which held several local officials liable, such as then mayor and now congressman Geronimo "Jerry" Treñas – recently suspended for a separate graft case. Also included were then vice mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, former city administrator Melchor Tan, and city treasurer Katherine Tingson, among others.
Then vice mayor Mabilog, however, filed an appeal stating that the city government "acted in good faith."
But COA rejected the claim and noted that local officials admitted to knowing that the cash incentives exceeded the cap set for the payment of salaries and benefits.
"Since there were waivers signed by these recipient employees to refund the corresponding amounts they received in case of disallowance, the defense of good faith is not availing," COA said. – Rappler.com
$1 = P50