THE Commission on Audit has “affirmed with finality” a 2017 ruling holding incumbent Antique Gov. Rhodora J. Cadiao and other provincial government officials liable for the grant of a P2.95 million irregular financial assistance to the province’s Liga ng mga Barangay in 2008.
In a decision dated January 6, 2020 released only last Friday, the COA Commission Proper denied for lack of merit Cadiao’s motion for reconsideration that sought reversal of the earlier ruling and the lifting of the notice of disallowance on the transaction.
COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc held that Cadiao has already lost her right to appeal the adverse decision because she was notified of the disallowance way back August 8, 2011.
“It must be emphasized that the perfection of an appeal within the statutory or reglementary period is not only mandatory, but also jurisdictional. Failure to interpose a timely appeal renders the appealed decision, order or award final and executory,” the COA ruled.
Based on audit records, the provincial government released P2.95 million in 2008 to the Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB) Antique Chapter on the strength of Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 163-A.
The fund assistance which paid for insurance premiums for 590 punong barangays was disallowed on audit on the ground that all public officials are already covered by similar benefits under the Government Service Insurance System.
Originally held liable were then governor Salvacion Perez, then vice governor Cadio, and provincial board members Benjamin Juanitas, Vincent Piccio III, Calixto Zaldivar III, Rosie Dimamay, Dante Beriong, Errol Santillan, Fernando Corvera, J. Tobias Javier, and Alfonso Combong Jr.
Also included were LnB-Antique president Edgar Denosta and members Carlos Palacios and Kenny Olandres; provincial accountant Vicente Maguad; provincial budget officer Pacifico Galindo Jr., OIC provincial treasurer Oscar Maranon, provincial project development coordinator Juliana Cepe and provincial administrator Zoilo Bernado Tubianoso.
However, in the 2017 review, the COA cleared Javier, Dimamay, Denosta and Piccio of any liability and ordered their names dropped from the list of provincial officials who were required to refund the disallowed sum.
But the COA found no credence in Cadiao’s argument that she should likewise be excused since, as a presiding officer, she did not cast her vote to the questioned resolution.
The commission noted that in the minutes of the 24th Regular Session of the provincial board, she was recorded as having actively participated in the approval of Resolution No. 163-08.
“Having signed the same, he attested to the regularity of the transaction,” the COA noted.