COA affirms disallowance on payment of wages to POEA director dismissed for bribery

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    THE Commission on Audit has upheld the propriety of a notice of disallowance issued against officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in 2006 for the payment of salaries and benefits amounting to P1.74 million to a division director who was already dismissed from the service for bribery.

    In a decision dated November 22, 2019 but released only last week, the COA Commission Proper denied the petition for review of POEA Administrative Office director Carolina G. de Leon asking to be excluded from liability on the ground that the ruling had long obtained finality.

    COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo signed the ruling together with Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc.

    De Leon was one of five POEA officials who were held liable for allowing POEA Employment Services Regulation Division head Leonel Salvador to continue reporting for work and receiving salaries and benefits four years and seven months after he was found guilty of bribery and ordered sacked by former Justice Secretary Leonardo Quisumbing.

    Others who were held liable for former POEA Administrators Reynaldo A. Regalado and Rosalinda Baldoz; former Administrative Officer director II Evangeline Quimpo; Pre-Employment Services Office director Nini Lanto, and Labrador.

    Baldoz was eventually excluded from liability after the Supreme Court absolved her, citing her lack of knowledge that the payment of salaries to Labrador was improper.

    On the other hand, the rest of the POEA officials held liable failed to challenge the COA ruling until the commission issued a Notice of Finality of Decision on January 7, 2010.

    Despite this, the POEA filed a motion for reconsideration dated January 26, 2010 which was overruled through the issuance of COA Order of Execution (COE) on November 25, 2013.

    De Leon filed her own appeal to the COE dated January 28, 2014, claiming she was not furnished a copy of the COA rulings because she was out of office during service of the directive. She also filed a petition for review dated August 3, 2015.

    “For failure of other persons liable to file an appeal from the ND, including petiltioner, the same has attained finality. This Commission cannot be faulted for not giving due course to the petitioner’s letter requesting reconsideration …for she has lost her right to appeal,” the COA pointed out.