Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Former peace process officials face cases over P50-M cash advances

Rommel Rebollido

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Former peace process officials face cases over P50-M cash advances
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity declines to identify its former officials and employees with pending cases

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) has filed administrative cases against several former officials and employees in connection with unliquidated cash advances that have ballooned to more than P50 million over five years.

However, the OPAPRU declined to identify any of the former officials and employees it brought to the Office of the Ombudsman, citing the “principle of sub judice and to avoid jeopardizing the ongoing investigation” by the Ombudsman.

Neither did the OPAPRU disclose the number of former officials and employees it charged administratively.

“It would be for the primary interest of justice, not to reveal for the meantime the names of those involved in the cases mentioned in our press statement,” lawyer Wilben Mayor, OPAPRU chief of staff, told Rappler on Monday, August 14. 

In a statement issued on Friday, August 11, the OPAPRU announced the filing of administrative cases due to the unliquidated cash advances dating back to 2019, resulting in the dismissal of one employee.

The OPAPRU released this statement in response to a Rappler report regarding the Commission on Audit (COA) holding them accountable for accumulating unliquidated cash advances, mostly during the Duterte administration.

It said the filing of the administrative cases was in response to COA’s recommendations from its 2018 special audit.

The OPAPRU said it initially asked concerned officials and employees to settle their cash advances through demand letters and had also resorted to salary deductions for some employees.

Based on the 2022 audit report sent to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. on June 29, the COA raised concerns about OPAPRU’s unliquidated cash advances, which had reached approximately P50.6 million.

The OPAPRU said the unliquidated cash advances accumulated since 2015, with P38.6 million carried over from previous administrations.

Apart from the administrative cases, the OPAPRU said it had compelled accountable special disbursing officers (SDOs) to repay the unliquidated amounts by deducting them from their salaries.

Currently, only P3.4 million remains to be liquidated out of the agency’s P12 million cash advances released to SDOs, it said. As of August 2023, the agency has settled P8.6 million, or 72% of the P12 million.

The OPAPRU said it aimed to “close the pending unliquidated cash advances by year-end.”

The 2022 COA audit report showed that P35.9 million, or 93% of the receivables, were incurred during the Duterte administration from 2016 to 2021, with some dating back to 2009 to 2015.

State auditors said the cash advances were disbursed to 78 OPAPRU personnel, and only two of these personnel were still in office.

Among the 78 individuals, 36 had concluded their contracts with the agency, 20 had resigned, 10 were untraceable, three were not OPAPRU staff members, two were deceased, two were terminated, two were absent without official leave, and one had retired.

The COA also did not identify those with unliquidated cash advances in its 2022 report.In the report, state auditors recommended the filing of charges against those who failed to settle their cash advances within the required timeframe. –

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