Auditors uncover P3.4-b housing mess in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT―The Commission on Audit has asked former officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to explain the “doubtful” entry of P3.49 billion in total account receivables after verification showed that the residents of the housing units and ecozone locators there could no longer be found.

This developed as an attempt by the CoA to establish the veracity of the P4.107-billion accounts receivables reported by SBMA under the leadership of former chairman Roberto Garcia and his board in its 2015 financial statements yielded absolutely no clues after all 87 letters of confirmation sent to the residents of housing units and ecozone locators returned without any reply.

Former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Roberto Garcia
CoA auditors said the 57 housing residents and 30 locators that they tried to reach accounted for P3.495 billion or 85.1 percent of the total account receivables.

“Of the 57 correspondences sent to residents, 37 were returned with remarks: ‘no one to receive, abandoned, unlocated, different unit owner, or closed/under SBMA control’ while the remaining 20 mails have no reply,” the CoA said. 

“As regards the 30 letters to locators, 11 were returned with comments: company closed/under control of SBMA or no one to receive while 19 did not respond.”

Reacting to the COA’s findings, new SBMA chairman Martin Diño has created an eight-man audit team tasked to review all the doubtful accounts going back several years to determine if there are people and companies who may be held liable.

He said the investigation will include Garcia and directors Benjamin Antonio, Wilfredo Pineda, Bienvenido Benitez, Joven Reyes, Francis Garcia, Raul Marcelo and Cynthia Paulino.

We will seek the truth and go after those who were responsible for any wrongdoing. We will definitely file charges against them,’’ Diño said.

Following the results of the verification, the government auditors declared that the possibility of trade receivables being collected and realized as revenue was now “doubtful.”

According to the CoA, a further review of records revealed the doubtful accounts had not moved at all since 2013.

The CoA likewise criticized the previous administration of the Freeport for having “failed to support its assertions on the correctness or records and validity of the receivables.

Named by Diño to the transition and audit team were lawyers Emer Aceron and Jose Arollado Jr., Rolando Allan Asi, Brig. General Percival Barba, Rod Banag, Brig. General Arnulfo J. Marcos (retired), Jose Rey Recinto and lawyer Victor Pablo Trinidad.

Diño said the audit team was empowered to compel the production of documents such as books of account, contracts and financial statements and to interview and take depositions of relevant personnel.

Aside from the doubtful accounts, Diño also intends to look into the P14.1-million questioned grant and liquidation of cash advances of former SBMA officials in light of the remarks from government auditors that inadequate documentation of liquidations “exposed government funds to risks of misappropriation or loss and cast doubt on their regularity.”

The CoA report identified then senior deputy administrator for support services Ramon Agregado with cash advances of P12.687 million and the deputy administrator for legal Randy Escolango with P299,700.

Also named were tourism department manager Mary Jamelle Camba, (P425,700); deputy administrator for administration Fernando De Villa Jr. (P451,940); legal department manager Von Rodriguez (P102,065.75), and manager for public health and safety Solomon Jacalne (P63,170).

“The granting of cash advance without the requisite authority violated COA Circular No. 97-002 dated February 10, 1997, which limits disbursing functions to only duly appointed or designated disbursing officers,” CoA said.  

In its audit report, the CoA also said it found out that cash balances of nearly P2.8 billion as of December 31 last year were “understated” by a net amount of P355,200.82 due to unrecorded collections of nearly P8.3 million, disbursements of P7.4 million and adjustments of P490,356.22.

The CoA discovered that inventory account balances as of year-end of P107.8 million were overstated by a net amount of P88.8 million. This was due to unrecorded spare parts inventory of P5.3 million, inclusion in the balance of non-existing stocks of P2.4 million, and unaccounted inventories of P91.8 million “resulting from lack of reconciliation between the accounting and property records in violation of Section 43 of the Manual on the New Government Accounting System.”

In its report, the Commission said the recorded balances of Property Plant Equipment accounts as of Dec. 31, 2015 with a net book value of P24.6 billion “were unreliable” due, among others, to the inclusion in the balances of the P1.1 billion costs of demolished buildings and other structures and the “doubtful existence and valuation” of PPE accounts amounting to P23.4 billion.

Topics: Commission on Audit(COA) , Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority officials , Roberto Garcia , Housing units , Ecozone locators , Residents
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