Ilocos Norte board asks Ombudsman to help probe missing Laoag gov’t funds

LAOAG CITY — Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP or provincial board) has called on the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a separate probe into the multi-million missing funds of Laoag.

Pegged at more or less PHP90 million, Provincial Board member lawyer Vicentito Lazo reiterated that under the Ombudsman Act of 1989, it has the power to conduct investigation on its own.

As of this posting, a team from the Commission on Audit and the Bureau of Local Government Finance tasked to investigate the missing funds from the Laoag coffers have yet to come out with their official findings of how much of the funds was lost and who are held liable.

“All of us are in limbo. We do not know yet when the result of the COA investigation will arrive,” said Lazo as he underscored the people of Laoag and Ilocos Norte cannot wait that long.

Regardless of how much is lost or should there be an effort to recover the amount from those who will be found responsible, Lazo said the “criminal liability” still exist hence, “these persons must answer.”

In view of this, the provincial board unanimously passed on Monday a Draft Resolution No. 2016-08-014, requesting Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to probe the loss of about PHP85.4 million while its treasurer Elena Asuncion immediately left the country without any explanation.

In addition, another resolution was passed on the same day as the body also requested the Department of Foreign Affairs through Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to cancel Asuncion’s passport as local authorities here failed to trace her whereabouts more than a month now since the discovery of the missing funds.

“I am not saying that the city treasurer is liable. I just want her to show up and shed light on what really happened,” said Lazo.

To recall, on June 13, Laoag City Accountant Edgar Pascual wrote a letter to City Mayor Chevylle Fariñas informing her about the loss of around PHP85.4 million. LEILANI ADRIANO/ PNA/