COA insists ex-CamSur execs liable for P24M fund transfer

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    THE Commission on Audit (COA) has thrown out the appeals filed by former Camarines Sur governor and now Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., former provincial budget officer Fortunato Peña, and former provincial accountant Leticia Aliorde for the lifting of the notice of disallowance issued against the transfer of P24.75 million government funds to Camarines Sur Kaogma Foundation Inc. (CKFI), a non-government organization.

    COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc unanimously upheld the January 26, 2018 ruling that found the transaction to be in violation of the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160), the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713), and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019).

    The COA Commission Proper noted that while the three were serving as provincial officials of Camarines Sur, they also held positions in the private foundation with Villafuerte sitting as chairman of the CKFI’s Board of Trustees, Peña as CKFI president, and Aliorde as treasurer.

    “Undeniably, they have financial, pecuniary or material interest over the fund transfers from the province to CKFI. Thus, good faith cannot be appreciated in their favor,” the COA ruled.

    Government auditors said the sum ended up with CKFI through 19 fund transfers carried out between August 2005 and May 2006 supposedly to help promote local tourism.

    In his motion for reconsideration, Villafuerte argued there was no finding that the public fund involved was lost and did not benefit the province.

    He added that there was no law barring the creation of CKFI and the transfer of government funds to it did not constitute prohibited business transactions.

    However, the COA noted that under section 89 (a) of the Local Government Code, it is unlawful for any local government official to engage in any business transaction with the local government in which he is occupying a position.