Army officer not liable for loss of P2M cash during gun battle

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    THE Commission on Audit has cleared Army Capt. Jonathan Zulueta of accountability for the loss of P2.1 million cash entrusted in his care during an armed encounter with communist rebels in Tulunan, North Cotabato on October 21, 2013.

    COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc granted the officer’s request for relief from accountability noting that there was no evidence of negligence on his part and that he has fully complied with the required documentation.

    Records showed the money was intended as subsistence allowance for members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary and was placed in Zulueta’s custody as disbursing officer of the 38th Batallion. 6th Infantry Division, PA.

    Based on the incidence report, Zulueta was with a team of soldiers on board a vehicle traversing Barangay Bituan when they were ambushed by some 50 fully armed New People’s Army rebels.

    The government troops said they immediately sustained casualties due to landmine explosions and were forced to retreat, leaving behind weapons, personal items and the bag containing the money totaling P2,100,870.

    Zulueta’s request for relief was favorably endorsed by the audit team leader to the COA Regional Director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao who likewise recommended grant of the request.

    “The loss was caused by ambush and bombing incidents initiated by the members of the CPP-NPA-NDF which are beyond the control of the AO (accountable officer). The AO and other soldiers exercised the diligence of a good father in securing government funds and property as they engaged in a firefight to protect the same,” the COA said.