The Commission on Audit has lifted the P79.9-million disallowance of the cash advances of then Laguna governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito from 2011 to 2013.
It cited its Notice of Disallowance No. 2016-03-002 issued on March 2, 2016, relative to the cash advances for intelligence and confidential activities of Laguna provincial government 2011 to 2013 worth P79,942,000 was deemed lifted.
Earlier CoA noted some discrepancies with the multimillion-peso cash advance on the Audit Observation Memorandum Nos. 2013-08-6444, 2013-08-6445 and 2013-08-6446.
Ejercito filed a plea on Sept. 2, 2016.
CoA agreed to uphold the ex-governor’s right to due process.
“In administrative proceedings, the filing of charges and giving reasonable opportunity for the person so charged to answer the accusations against him constitute the minimum requirements of due process. The essence of due process is to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side,” its resolution read.
But it clarified the lifting of the notice of disallowance did not preclude the issuance of another one if warranted by the results of the reaudit.
Some of the grounds included in the memoranda were the erroneous inclusion of maintenance and operating expenses, grants, donations and monetary assistance in the peace and order program, the undated liquidation report for the first quarter of 2013, the certification from the Philippine National Police of Laguna showing the province was generally a peaceful community, and another certification was dated two months after the cash advance was made.
Then Intelligence and Confidential Funds Audit Unit director Flerida Jimenez said “the documents submitted by Governor Estregan failed to address the deficiencies noted in the AOMs.”
On May 22, 2014, Ejercito filed a supplemental comment and another one on Oct. 22, 2014.
He said “contrary to the ground stressed by Jimenez in issuing the notice of disallowance, which was the absence of evidence on record to refute the grounds for the issuance of the NS [notice of suspension], the notice of disallowance should be vacated for being (sic) ab initio.”
CoA chairman Michael Aguinaldo, and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Isabel Agito said the evaluation of the propriety of the disbursement was incomplete since some pieces evidence submitted by Ejercito were fully considered.
With such pronouncement, CoA’s Commission Proper ordered the notice of disallowance lifted but only to give the Intelligence and Confidential Funds Audit Unit an opportunity to go over Ejercito’s most recent submissions.
“A perusal and evaluation of the documents submitted by Governor Estregan, which have been overlooked on audit, is called for, in deference to his right to due process. Hence, it is proper to conduct an audit anew of the documents submitted by Governor Estregan, as recommended by ICFAU Director (Mario) Lipana,” the Commission Proper said.