Laoag gov’t shuts down Laoag treasurer’s office as about PHP90-M found missing

LAOAG CITY- The Laoag city government has temporary shut down the operation of its treasury office pending an on-going investigation of around PHP90 million found missing from Laoag’s coffers.

Laoag Treasurer Elena Asuncion is also nowhere to be found. Latest report from local authorities revealed that Asuncion was already out of the country as her mobile phone was recently traced near Colorado in the United States.

Laoag City Administrator Cipriano Hilarion “Perry” Martinez said that presently, the normal operation of the Office of the Treasurer has been temporary shut down pending an on-going investigation of the missing amount now reaching about PHP90 million.

Based on initial report, Martinez said, “There are certain procedures which should have been followed and this problem could have been avoided.”

“Sa ngayon, ang tatanggapin lang natin ay yung mga bayad/remittance. So, yung mga windows bukas ‘yan para sa ating mga kababayan but in terms of paper works, yung mga libro, lahat ‘yun ay hindi muna nila gagawin ‘yun,” Martinez said as other representatives from the local Commission on Audit requested additional people to help out in the inventory of documents.

While several members of the Philippine National Police are assigned 24/7 in front of the City Treasurer’s Office to ensure smooth flow of the investigation, members of the Civil Security Unit also take turns in manning the entrance door of the office, allowing only authorized persons to enter until the audit report is completed.

Last Friday, a city government employee saw Asuncion carrying two boxes on her way out of the City Hall using the back door of the treasurer’s office.

In 2012, the Laoag city government was conferred an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certificate, making it the first ISO-certified local government unit in the province.

The ISO certification was expected to translate to more efficient public transaction and transparency and integrity of internal audit systems.

As a result, financial institutions give priority to ISO-certified local government units when applying for loans.PNA/