The Commission on Audit (COA) has required the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to “immediately liquidate” its cash advances totaling P1.637 billion, including P1.202 billion spent during the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
In a management letter sent by COA to Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas, the unliquidated advances included funds amounting to P1.418 billion used for payroll, official local and foreign travels and other undertakings, as well as cash advances in previous years amounting to P219.184 million.
Further broken down as to recipient of the funds, P1.457 billion went to special disbursing officers and P179.884 million were given to officers and employees.
Of the amount given to special disbursement officers, P1.202 billion were cash advances granted during the conduct of the May 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections which remained outstanding for more than 180 days as of December 31, 2018.
Auditors noted that delayed liquidation of funds run contrary to Presidential Decree 1445 which states that cash advances shall be reported on and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was given has been served and that no additional advance shall be allowed unless the previous one is settled.
“Repeated unjustified failure to comply with the requirements imposed in this code shall be conclusive proof that the public officer concerned is notoriously undesirable,” the COA letter noted.
The auditors, however, noted that liquidation reports for advances totaling P1.508 billion were submitted but still beyond the due date for liquidation from 1 day to 252 days.
The reports were received by the Finance Services Division of Comelec but were not yet recorded in the books, contrary to the provisions of a COA 1997 circular. (ABS-CBN News)