Thursday, November 5, 2009

2008 COA report: P1.5M fiberglass patrol boat disappeared . . . from the books

As soon as my first piece on the 2008 COA annual audit report got posted in the online forum , in, in the website, and in my Facebook account, readers’ reaction came in torrents, indicating huge interest in the contents of the report. Some were requesting for a copy, others egging me on to bare its contents all at once.

I hit a gold mine in the report, but I am not hoarding it, unlike some thieves in the corridors of power who, even while masquerading in public as generous souls, are already entertaining dark and sinister thoughts of keeping the find for themselves and themselves alone. Inggit at tulo laway lang kayo, they would say.

As I said, the report is so voluminous that I intend to parcel out its details in morsels. If you are ready, then I am.

The report, by the way, had found its way into four offices: a copy each went to the regional directors of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Budget and Management, and Department of Finance’s Bureau of Local Government Finance.

A fourth copy is now in the interstices of the office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, but I doubt if any member, say, like Gil Moreno, or Nelson Lim, or Pat Manalon, has seen, or read, or even understood the 200-page report. They must be very busy campaigning for re-election.

The audit report say that in 2008, the province of Romblon earned a total of P357,877, 264.25 and spent P322,887,494.83, out of the total appropriation of P381,626,760.42.

I quoted these figures because a backdrop is needed. You see, government agencies are allowed to spend people’s money only when there is an appropriation. In local government operations, an appropriation, or the authority to spend, is approved by the local Sanggunian.

In Romblon’s case, the authorized appropriation was P381.626 million, but for a while, look NOT at the total spending, but at the total earnings of P357.877 million, which is much less. What does this mean? This means that we are appropriating more than what we could earn. This, in most instances, leads to what you call deficit-spending. Sounds familiar?

The heart of the COA audit report was its findings. For Romblon, the COA noted several adverse discoveries in the financial transactions in 2008. I shall begin with the most significant. The parenthetical notations are my comments.

1. In 2008, Romblon submitted very late its monthly, quarterly, and year-end financial reports to State auditors contrary to regulations. This prevented the COA from perusing and preparing its audit reports on time.

(Anything new? Romblon, the capitol, is, as always, very late, or some of its officials and employees have arthritic hands like me that they can’t write reports.)

2. The COA could not determine the validity and correctness of the capitol’s collections and disbursements, or use, of the Special Education Fund because it did not submit any report, such as deposit slips, or payrolls. The amount involved was P4.180 million in collections and P2.740 million in expenses.

(Ibinakay it mga school bag para sa mga Estudyante nak di-pintura it uda it gobernador?)

3. The capitol did not reconcile, or delayed its reconciliation of, its financial records with bank records, so the COA could not ascertain the accuracy of the province’s bank balance of P63.542 million. The COA said bank and book balances have a difference of P10.082 million, while the Accounting and Treasury books have a difference of P306,019.43.

(Oops. Sorry, COA. If the capitol reconciles regularly its book and bank records and its Accounting and Treasury officials periodically do their reconciliation work, then, the governor will have very little room to play with the numbers. In accounting parlance, the usual justification when this ‘anomaly’ is discovered is to tell the auditors that the money is ‘in transit’. ‘In transit’ to where? To the bank or to the pockets?)

4. The province’s Plant, Property and Equipment, valued at P144.205 million and inventory items worth P14.373 million could not be ascertained if true or existing. The COA said the reason is because the capitol has not done any periodic inventory.

(True and existing, I would say . . . in the books and in the imagination, but not in the true sense of the word. This is a perennial COA observation. Last year, the COA asked the capitol to do an inventory, but it seems the property officer and the General Services Office, led by the inexhaustible Jojo Rugas, are still learning to do the math, while receiving fat bonuses and productivity incentives. That’s all they know to inventory, it seems.)

5. The fiberglass patrol boat donated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources valued at P1.5 million has disappeared—from the books. It has not been recorded. The official who received the record of the donation has not submitted the document to the Provincial Accountant.

(Where is the patrol boat? Naghahakot it banye-banyerang isra nak suhoy it illegal fishermen agor indi gi rakpon? Where is the invoice of the donation? Kinumos ag ipina-on sa pagpangisra? Usec Bernie, did you facilitate the donation? Just asking.)

6. The COA found out that the capitol charged to principal amortization its interest payment of P8.760 million, because there is no provision for interest payment in the provincial appropriation.

(Gov. Jojo B., time to change accountants? Calling on the majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Didn’t you know that Romblon has a huge loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines, courtesy of our dearly beloved congressman Budoy M, for which we are paying till death do us part? Why didn’t you appropriate an amount for interest thereof, so Gov. Jojo B’s accountant will not charge it to the principal amortization? I request SP Nelson Lim to answer this question. SP Nelson is recognized. SP Gil Moreno will second. Drum roll. Gavel bangs.)

Readers, more to come.

In the meantime, let me not forget to inform you that the above findings—whether omission, commission, violation, malfeasance, or, as they say, plain stupidity, were violations or contrary to existing rules, laws and regulations of the government, according to the COA.

In my book, they are also highly unethical, which is the highest form of transgression.

That our concerned officials and employees can so grossly and continually go against the law is, I will say it again, an indication of the quality of our leaders and public servants. It is also an indictment of our politics as a people, so anything wrong that our officials commit gets back to us in equal measure because it is us who voted them into office in the first place.

Now, excuse me while I go to the confessional. Text me at 0917 623 8842, or e-mail me later at after I have washed my hands.

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