MANGALDAN–The result of the investigation by the Commission on Audit (COA) regarding the reported payroll scam in the municipal government of Mangaldan is expected to be out in a week’s time.
This was disclosed by Mayor Herminio Romero who vowed that there will be “no whitewash” and no cover up” of all the personnel involved in the illegal transactions that defrauded the municipal coffer of a still undetermined amount of cash.
Romero, clarifying media reports indicating that the amount determined had reached P29 million, said it is “overblown and sensationalized” because that is the total payroll for all employees of the municipal government for one year.
He also disclosed that the case may not be one of “padding” as initially suspected but that the municipal disbursing officer appears to have withdrawn from the bank an amount that was higher than what was indicated in the payroll.
“It was not payroll padding. Iniba kasi yong total amount para makapag-wthdraw for bigger amount,” he said, pointing out that this is a criminal as well as an administrative offense.
The mayor hinted that if this was indeed the case, the departments that could be held liable will include the accounting, treasury, and personnel.
He did not disclose any names but said at least three personnel may have been involved and benefited from the series of illegal transactions.
Romero also explained that he can not impose any preventive suspension against any personnel suspected to be involved until after the COA submits its report.
At the same time, the mayor appealed to municipal employees as well as the public to “be patient” with the result as COA has just finished auditing 80 percent of the town’s financial statement for 2001.
Romero declined an earlier suggestion that he organizes a separate investigating committee that will look into the scam saying it would only muddle the COA investigation and could cause confusion and spawn speculations of a cover-up.
“Kaya mas maigi na yong COA, as it is the mandated agency to audit the books of LGUs and government agencies,” said Romero.
As to insinuations he may have been remiss in his duty by not immediately detecting the irregularities, Romero explained that he is the last signatory to all checks issued by the municipal government and he could not possibly scrutinize each one.