Monday, November 2, 2009

COA’s 2008 annual audit of Romblon bares more Beltran’s ‘sins’

In January this year, I wrote about the findings of the Commission on Audit about the financial irregularities in the capitol in 2007, very particularly about the un-liquidated cash advances of officials and employees which to this day have not been liquidated.
My aim then as now was to inform the public that while Beltran reigns as governor, no amount of “pa-cute” can hide the fact that he and some of his officials and employees are spending people’s money as if the Central Bank will close its printing presses tomorrow, and in the process putting at risk and compromising public interest. Kalolooy rabono ka Romblon.

Well, well. What have I got?

Three weeks ago, a reader, Vonn Fadri, circulated a copy of the COA’s 2008 annual audit report on Romblon. I deferred writing about it because I have been so busy. I promised Mr. Fadri, however, that I will devour the report, as soon as I have time.

I have now, so brace your selves for COA’s damning revelations on how Jojo “Sinturon Rayagan” Beltran, with the aid of his band of fawning officials and employees, went about raping Romblon’s treasury in 2008.

Before I proceed further, however, let me warn the reader that the COA audit report does not indict Gov. Beltran or the provincial government singly or collectively. It does not pronounce him guilty. That’s for the court to decide. It also does not compel him to abide with the law, the COA having no police or coercive power.

The audit report merely reports the facts on the province’s financial transactions in the past year and recommends—in fact, “requests”—corrective steps to set the transactions and records aright and according to the law.

The copy of the report I have on file is 200 pages long, in portable document format, or PDF, and with several annexes. It contains very detailed findings and sober recommendations.

Observers interested in politics and governance will find the report useful. In fact, those who in the 2010 elections would like to raise issues for or against any candidate must read the report, for it clearly instructs political leaders on good conduct and behavior once they are in public office. Alas, Gov. Beltran as the leader of Romblon, could be so hard-headed, or doesn’t read at all, or doesn’t understand what the COA is there for, that he has continually thumbed his nose on the report’s recommendations.

The length of the document prevents me from writing just one short column, so I will take the liberty of writing about it in installment. And since Wilig-wilig, Liong-liong appears just once every week, I reckon it would take me a month or two to comment on the report. I, therefore, hope that Romblon Sun readers will not tire out in reading my commentaries on the audit report.

The COA 2008 annual audit report was written by Concepcion N. Caldit, audit team leader. She was assisted by Geraldine Gutierrez and Rockfeller Merida, audit team members. Emmie Mendoza, supervising auditor, oversaw its preparation.

In a letter to Gov. Beltran on May 20, 2009, COA regional director Reynaldo Jamoralin said the audit was made “to ascertain the propriety of financial transactions, compliance with prescribed rules, and the economical, efficient, and effective utilization of resources.”

“It was also made to ascertain the accuracy of financial records and reports, as well as the fairness of presentation of financial statements,” Jamoralin, in his letter, added.

Just to tickle your imagination, the COA report lists down Rep. Budoy Madrona as one of those having cash advances which up to this day has not been liquidated. And just to be fair and square, opposition member of the SP Benjamin Irao, Jr. and Vice Governor Alice Fetalvero have also cash advances, but their advances pale in comparison with the financial accountabilities of Jojo Beltran and some of his pawns. Beltran, in fact, according to the report, had checks issued in his name several times in 2008. I admire this boy’s fast learning curve.

Here’s another tickler. The COA found out that the capitol paid its officials and employees P16,542,000.00 in so-called performance bonuses, extra cash gifts and rice allowances in 2008 in violation of Section 4(l) of PD 1445. The amount paid, the COA observed, exceeded the salary ceiling set under RA 6758.

The COA report contains many more adverse findings that “shocked and awed” me, to use George Bush’s strategy in Iraq. I will mention these findings one by one in my succeeding columns.

Based on the COA’s findings, the capitol dismally failed the tests based on three criteria—propriety, compliance, and economy. It also failed on the criterion of accuracy of financial records and fairness of presentation of financial statements. Because of this failure, the COA issued a qualified audit opinion for Romblon in 2008.

Being a non-accountant not familiar with the ways and workings of auditing, I can only follow what the COA said in the report. As a writer cum social investigator, however, I can smell anomalies miles away by reading printed texts and by poring over reports.

Thus, I will also issue an opinion, albeit unofficial: The audit report and its findings bare the inner demons of Beltran’s hypocrisy, greed, and corruption. It brings to light and for our self-examination and judgment not only Beltran’s “unfitness” for the post he now so immensely enjoys, but also our decision in 2007 to elect him to power.

Read the report and tell me I am wrong. Now, if you want a copy of the report, text me your e-mail address at 0917 623 8842. Forgive me, I don’t answer text messages. My fingers are arthritic. But I do respond to e-mails.

No comments: