P500K reward for info on missing Laoag treasurer

LAOAG CITY — The city government of Laoag is offering PHP500,000 for any information leading to the arrest of former Laoag treasurer Elena Asuncion, who is facing plunder charges and embezzlement of over PHP85 million taxpayers’ money.

Photos of Asuncion has been circulating over social media networking sites since Sunday as City Mayor Chevylle Fariñas and husband, Vice Mayor Michael Fariñas called on local residents here to share Asuncion’s photo and help local authorities to find her.

Asuncion went missing since June 2016 following the loss of over PHP85 million from various bank accounts being maintained by the city government.

Based on records of the Bureau of Immigration, Asuncion flew to Colorado, United States. She was never seen in Laoag since then.

Initial result of investigation showed that the irregularity was trace back since 2007 during the term of former city mayor and now vice mayor Fariñas.

The irregularity was apparently carried on and left undetected by the local finance committee until city officials discovered that time deposits and savings accounts, opened under the Laoag City government as recorded in the treasury’s financial reports, were non-existent when verified with the Laoag government’s depository banks.

The search for Asuncion with a hashtag #HuntForElenaVAsuncion became viral online with the latest reward money for any information that will lead to her arrest.

“Please I urged and beg every people of Laoag to share it for this is our money paid thru taxes. This is not a concern of the city government officials alone. Let’s do our part for our beloved city,” said the city Vice Mayor as he enjoined everyone to share Asuncion’s wanted photo.

Earlier, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in Ilocos Norte also passed another resolution, reiterating its earlier request to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to conduct its own investigation on the absconding of Laoag treasurer and the loss of over PHP 85 million city government funds.

The National Bureau of Investigation has also recommended that resident city auditors of the Commission on Audit, City Accountant or those from the Cashier Division should also be administratively sanctioned for failing to counter check the existence of time deposit accounts under their custody and disposal but it has not been acted upon up to this time.

Amid calls of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the Fariñas couple to take a temporary leave of absence while the COA and the Bureau of Local Government Finance conducted separate investigation, both top ranking city officials declined insisting they have no hand in stealing the money. LGA/PNA-northboundasia.com