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The Commission on Audit (COA), in a six-page decision Monday, January 31, said that 25 former San Juan officials, including San Juan City ex-mayor Guia Gomez, are no longer entitled to their transportation allowances by virtue of the notices of disallowances under the Department of Budget and Management – Local Budget Circular (DBM-LBC) Nos. 79 and 103.
The notices of disallowance require officials to refund the transportation allowances amounting to P4.58 million, covering the years 2013 to 2014.
The ruling was signed by COA chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and commissioner Roland C. Pondoc.
The amount to be refunded by former mayor Gomez is P256,500. Architect Romeo Gonzales, tourism officer Emma Ray Panaguiton, population development officer Ruben Quimosing, health officer Victor Lacandola, social welfare and development officer Jessica Quitor, and Environment and Natural Resources Office department head Dante Santiago will have to repay P204,000 each.
About P198,600 each are required from City administrator Ramulfo Dacalos, legal officer Romualdo delos Santos, human resource officer Elvira Flores, planning officer Ma. Aura Robles, city treasurer Yolanda Mangohig, accountant Alicia Barazon, civil registrar Josielour Magno, assessor Edgardo Briones, information officer Grace Pardines, and health officer Jesus Esteban Olano.
From city risk reduction and management officer Nathaniel Rabonza, city treasurer in-charge Leticia Alcober, and veterinarian Jerry Alcantara, the amount of P180,000 each; Public Order and Safety Office chief Renato Ramos (P175,200); budget officer Lorenza Ching (P130,600); City Engineer’s Office in-charge Rigor John Abutar (P127,500); City Permits and Licensing Office assistant department head Dominic Garcia (P75,000); and former city engineer Danilo Mercado (P63,931.83).
On the other hand, the COA cleared San Juan City Medical Center medical director Apolinario Esquivel Jr. of any liability for using the hospital ambulance. He is thus entitled to transportation allowance totalling P204,000.
The LGU officials cited the Local Government Code of 1991, which says that local governments enjoy fiscal autonomy. Whatever rules and limitations regarding the use of service vehicles assigned to them do not apply.
The COA, however, stressed that LGUs remain under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President and of Congress, thus they are all bound by DBM circulars.
The COA said, “The NDs (notices of disallowance) issued …are proper. It was acknowledged that payments of Tas (transportation allowances) were made to the LGU officials and employees despite the fact that government vehicles were already issued to them for their official use, in violation of the said DBM Circulars.” – Rappler.com