Monday, September 12, 2016

An emotional MVF denies connection to missing P85M

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff reporter

Laoag City—“I swear on my father’s grave, my grandfather’s grave and even uray siyak matayak ita appo including my wife, my three children and my two grandchildren that we know nothing about this. Awan pulos ammu mi a kastoy gayam ti inar-aramid ni Miss Elena Asuncion”.

This was Laoag vice mayor Michael V. Fariñas’ emotional statement during the senior citizen’s program, referring to the missing P85 million from the city’s coffers. The program was part of the vice mayor’s month-long birthday celebration this August.

The vice mayor served as Laoag mayor from 2004-2010.

Mr. Fariñas added that the different department heads in the city government were also unaware of the missing monies, including accountant Edgar Pascual, whose prime task is to audit the city government’s finances.

He stressed that he is also very eager to learn the result of the Commission on Audit investigation. He added that he is “10 times” more eager to know that most people, saying: “Tapnu met madalusan iti nagan mi nga agasawan.”

Saanak a managibales a tao, ngem sapay kuma dagidiay a nagsarsarita iti madi wennu nagpan-panunot kontra kaniyak wennu kontra ken Chevylle, sapay kad kuma ta addan to met konsensiya da nga agpa despensar kadakami wennu agpakawan kayo lattan ken Apo Diyosen appo”, he said.

As a “father of the city”, he said it is his obligation to inform the people of Laoag and enlighten their minds “ta adu met iti simmakayen ken agpaspasikaten kurang na lang nga itudo da kami payen nga adda pakainaigan min”.

Mr. Fariñas stressed in his speech that nobody yet knows the exact amount of missing money as COA has not released their findings as of yet.

He also disclosed that it was the regional Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) which appointed Ms. Asuncion as city treasurer. He emphasized that the city government or the mayor also has no authority to suspend or remove a sitting city government treasurer.

2 bags
Mr. Fariñas also divulged that Ms. Asuncion was caught by the CCTV camera spiriting away two bags as she exited from the backdoor of her office just before she, herself, disappeared.

He also related that all of the city government’s time deposit accounts were terminated and entered in current accounts.

Awan napukaw ket ti lang pagsiddaawak no apay adda paylang maipakpakita a certificate of time deposits which I cannot answer the question why”.

City council probe
the vice mayor also reported that the Sangguniang Panlungsod has initiated an investigation in the matter, in response to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan request.

They discovered that there was no transfer of function or even a simple turnover when the new treasurer was appointed. Ms. Asuncion served as cashier prior to becoming the treasurer.

He explained that the process Ms. Asuncion implemented made her the collector of all cash with the cashier only signing the deposit slip. The cashier at the time was identified as Bella Santiago.

Mr. Fariñas apologized at the end of his speech for becoming a “killjoy” but he said he only took the opportunity to explain himself and to inform everyone about what he knows so far about the issue.

More than two months after the missing money was discovered, the COA has yet to complete its investigation. A parallel probe conducted by the BLGF was completed in June. The report, however, is not being released as they are also waiting for the COA to wrap up its own probe.

Ms. Asuncion’s whereabouts are still unknown. Unconfirmed reports have placed her at the United States of America but this has not been verified.

Provincial board
With the investigation still not completed, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution requesting the Office of the Ombudsman to join the investigation.

SP member Vicentito “Toto” M. Lazo, the measure’s sponsor, said the Ombudsman would help fast track the investigation. He added that they would also pinpoint who are really involved in the issue.

The board earlier passed another resolution requesting Laoag mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas and Mr. Fariñas to file leaves of absence for the duration of the investigation. The two Laoag officials however rebuffed the request.

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