THE Office of the President has received a 75-year-old debt note asking for $15,000 as payment for horses, chickens, and a thousand “habano” cigars among others.
No, the bill was not drawn for some 1940s wild party but is a list of farm assets requisitioned by a Filipino guerilla general during World War II.
The claimant’s list included a carromata or a horse-drawn carriage (P1,625), two male horses (P250), one bicycle (P150), 50 sacks of rice (P200), 10 cavans of monggo (mung bean P200), 21 chickens (P63), 1,000 habano cigars (P60), five cans of salted fish (P35), 10 pounds of sugar (P22.50), two cans of asuite (P16), 35 cases of laundry soap (P14), 15 pounds of salt (P7.50), 20 packs of matches (P5), and two cans of coffee (P3).
Taken all together, the animals and supplies were worth P2,651.
Luckily for Malacañang, government auditors said it does not have to foot the bill.
Claimant Arturo Payaoan said he is the grandson and sole heir of Captain Melecio Rosario who supposedly supplied the US-Filipino forces who were fighting the Japanese invasion.
Payaoan said his grandfather, who was also a soldier serving in the 14th Infantry, was promised payment in the form of an IOU for $15,000.
Captain Rosario, however, died without receiving the value of the debt paper.
Records showed the note was signed by one Dr. Godofredo Calub, founder and president of the Crusaders Army Inc. (CAI). The note was offered as proof that Rosario was a member with a share in the “estate of the late war-time Commander-in-chief General Hilario Camino Moncado.”
Malacañang declined responsibility over the debt note, saying there was no record that the Office of the President had any transaction with the Crusaders Army.
The director of the National Government Sector Cluster 1-Commission on Audit recommended the denial of the claim on the ground that the petitioner failed to sufficiently establish his claim against the OP.
COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc affirmed the cluster director’s stand citing lack of jurisdiction.
“This Commission is devoid of jurisdiction to entertain the herein petition. The CAI was a private organization, not a government agency or its subsidiary or instrumentality. Neither was it an agency attached to the OP or the Philippine Army,” the COA pointed out.
“The jurisdiction of this Commission over money claims is limited to those due from or owing to the Philippine government. The said jurisdiction cannot be extended to claims against private individual or foreign government,” it added.
But all is not lost to the claimant as the COA pointed out that the note should be charged against the estate of Gen. Hilario Camino Moncado.
Moncado is recognized as a former resistance leader during the Japanese occupation.
According to an April 10, 1956 article in the New York Times, he sought the Philippine presidency twice – in 1941 and 1946 – but lost in both elections.