by Allan Yves Briones
The Commission on Audit (COA) called on the provincial government of Agusan del Sur (PGAS) to explain representation and transportation allowances paid out in 2018, contrary to law.
In the 2018 annual audit report, state auditors took notice of the payment of representation allowance worth P67,500 to the Assistant Provincial Government Department Head (APGDH) – a position allegedly deemed abolished pursuant to a local ordinance.
Ordinance No. 36, also known as An Ordinance Reorganizing the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur, was passed on March 23, 2009 effectively abolished the APGDH, as well as instituting several personnel changes.
However, the provincial government reportedly continued to authorize grants to the APGDH, contrary to Department of Budget and Management Local Budget Circular No. 013.
“[T]he position is no longer authorized in the PGAS staffing pattern and would therefore follow that payment of (representation allowance) to non-existing position of the (local government unit) is disallowable in audit,” COA said.
In the report, former Agusan del Sur governor Adolph Plaza defended his allowance grant, stating that while the position has indeed been set for abolition, it will not take effect until the current occupant of the post retires, resigns, promotes or discontinues his functions.
“As long as the officer remains to exercise the functions of his office as APGDH, the said office continues to exist and its officer entitled to the emoluments and benefits accorded to it,” he said.
However, COA believed otherwise, noting that the person performing the function already has a different plantilla position.
State auditors also flagged transportation allowances worth P411,050 allegedly made to personnel despite already being assigned government vehicles, in violation of Section 8.2 of Local Budget Circular No. 103.
To which the Acting Provincial Administrator responded that the allowances were granted to officials whose vehicles underwent major repair.
COA urged the provincial government to strictly follow the rules regarding the grant of various allowances to its officers and employees to avoid being subjected to disallowances.