COA, LWUA execs liable for multi-million bonuses — Ombudsman

MANILA — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal from service of six auditors from the Commission on Audit (COA) for grave misconduct for receiving additional compensation and bonuses from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) from 2006 to 2010.

Ordered dismissed are state auditors Juanito Daguno, Jr., Proceso Saavedra, Teresita Tam, Corazon Cabotage, Evangeline Sison and Vilma Tiongson, including data machine operators Violeta Gamil and Roberto Villa.

They were also perpetually disqualified for reemployment in the government service with cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

COA executives Edna Anical, Thelma Baldovino, Evelyn De Leon, Daguno, Nestorio Ferrera, Gamil, Zoharayda Obog, Ligaya Principio, Jesusa Punsalan, Saavedra, Paulino Sarmiento, Tam, Villa, Cabotage, Sison and Tiongson are also facing criminal indictment for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, in connection with the multi-million peso grant of additional compensation and bonuses.

Ombudsman Morales also found LWUA executives Lorenzo Jamora, Wilfredo Feleo, Orlando Hondrade and Daniel Landingin guilty of simple misconduct.

They were ordered suspended without pay for six months.

In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to six months’ salary.

Investigation show that Jamora, et al. approved and signed Letters of Instructions directing the issuance of checks covering the irregular bonuses for LWUA and COA personnel from 2006 to 2010 totaling Php25 million.

Based on the records of the COA Human Resource Office, respondent Anical received Php789,000; Baldovino Php886,000; De Leon Php517,000; Daguno Php615,000; Ferrera Php961,000; Gamil Php834,000; Obog Php658,000; Principio Php642,000; Punsalan Php602,000; Saavedra Php692,000; Sarmiento Php703,000; Tam Php592,000; Villa Php650,000; Cabotage Php542,000; Sison Php183,000; and Tiongson Php164,000.

The joint resolution said that “the amount given were huge and arbitrary,” such that a COA machine operator assigned at LWUA received as much as P140,000 and P43,000 in November 2006 alone.

They each received bonuses twice a month in November 2006, September and December 2007, September and December 2008 and March 2010.

It added that “their patent disregard of the existing policy of their own institution against the practice of receiving additional compensation cannot be deemed a mere lapse of judgment. Respondents, being state auditors and employees of COA itself, are presumed to know the prohibition.”

Morales said that “COA auditors and employees were obviously motivated by malicious intent to favor self-interest at the expense of the public” and that “their acts are contrary to accepted rules of right and duty, honesty and good morals.”

She added that as for Jamora, et al., “their stamp of approval and authorization for fund disbursement as payment for the questioned benefits is a clear transgression” of the Salary Standardization Law and other COA regulations. PNA