Unsolved PH Coast Guard cash mess continues with promoted officer – COA

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) continued to be gripped by corruption controversies, as the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged another round of cash advances which were given to a newly-promoted officer even as past irregularities remained unsolved.

In its 2017 audit report of the PCG, state auditors said that P818,531 worth of cash advances given to former commodore, now Rear Admiral Leopoldo Larroya were “disowned by suppliers.”

President Rodrigo Duterte promoted Laroya to rear admiral in January 2018.

According to COA, Laroya was issued with P3.9 million worth of cash advances in 2016. He liquidated it only in April 2017, and upon liquidation, P818,531 were found with irregularities.

Eleven suppliers “disowned” 100 receipts that made up the amount. The responses of the suppliers varied, some saying the receipts were “incorrect, “fake” and one supplier said they do not even sell the items declared in the receipts.

QUESTIONABLE. Breakdown of Rear Admiral Leopoldo Laroya's cash advances which were found questionable by the Commission on Audit. Screenshot from COA audit report

QUESTIONABLE. Breakdown of Rear Admiral Leopoldo Laroya's cash advances which were found questionable by the Commission on Audit.

Screenshot from COA audit report

COA told the PCG to “conduct its own investigation and institute appropriate administrative and legal action, as warranted, against persons found responsible/liable for the irregular transaction.”

COA said the PCG’s Accounting Service Office (ASO) should conduct an in-depth review of the receipts submitted to them to ensure that “spurious receipts are no longer used by the assigned Special Disbursement Officers (SDOs) in the liquidation of their cash advances.

In its reply to COA, the PCG said “they have already made significant improvement in the granting and liquidation/replenishment of cash advances such as issuance of guidelines in accordance with the new accounting rules.”

Unsolved

However, the COA noted that the PCG has not implemented any of its recommendations from past years to address irregular expenditures, including P27 million worth of questioned cash advances.

This P27 million cash advances anomaly involves newly promoted officers Rear Admiral Athelo Ybañez and Commodore Teotimo Borja Jr. Ybañez, Borja and 7 others have been preventively suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman, pending the result of a graft investigation.

"No appropriate administrative and legal action was taken by the Management against persons found responsible/liable for the fake/irregular transactions,” COA said.

In fact, the PCG only implemented the suspension order on June 1, a month after the order was issued, and after it was publicized on the media.

The COA said that while they recommended PCG to strictly abide by procurement rules, “there were still cases of spurious transactions.”

The PCG said it discontinued the practice of granting cash advances to special disbursing officers that are in excess of their “maximum accountability.” The PCG added it did not release cash advances to special disbursing officers who still had unliquidated amounts.

Auditors said that P2.5 million worth of cash advances still remained unliquidated as of the 2017 audit. And yet, COA said, more cash advances were again released in 2017.

“As per verification with the Accounting Service Office, there is still no assurance as to the legitimacy of supporting documents since there is only one person handling the review of such documents,” COA said.

The head of the PCG’s Accounting Service Office said the unit has a “limited capability as a centralized accounting office that processes financial transactions of the PCG nationwide.”

Likewise, extensive review may cause delay in the processing of payments of obligations and requirements that may hamper the operations of the PCG units,” the PCG said.

The PCG is also embroiled in another legal suit over anomalous transactions involving P125 million worth of rescue equipment which were found to be rife with irregularities. The Court of Appeals has left it to the Office of the Ombudsman to decide the fate of some of its officers with unclear judgments, including Borja. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

image