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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, December 12, 2016
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TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY

BASOC revisited - 2

Tightrope

Now we have Monico Puentevella once again denigrating the decision of the Commission on Audit declaring that he has failed to account for over P36 million of the funds intended for the SEA Asian games in Bacolod. That is usual of him. Indeed he will again file a motion for reconsideration, believing that he can make the wheels of justice move slowly again in his favor.

Well, the decision has noted the series of reconsiderations but the facts remain, as the COA said.

The absence of so many documents required by law perforce the suspension of the audit and to give Puentevella another chance to explain why he cannot show where the BASOC funds were legally used. The decision did not even bother with the documents showing that Puentevella deposited the money in his personal and family bank accounts. That is another issue. The COA seemingly was concerned only where he spent the money and not where he deposited it.

Because of its findings of many deficiencies, the COA report continued to say that “On January 30, 2014, the Supervising Auditor (SA), PSC, issued ND No. 2014-101-GF/NSDF-(05), disallowing the amount of P36,778,105.44 in view of the non-submission of the documents required under NS No. 2010-01” and listing the particulars of the claimed expenses that were disallowed”.

The Notice of Disallowance was thus based on Puentevella's failure to submit documents of the expenses he claimed but some were also disregarded as they were not the kind the COA needed.

If he files another motion for reconsideration as he declared in a press statement, I doubt if he can produce the documents that are required. If he failed before, how can he produce the same documents unless they are perfect fakes or forgeries?

Moreover, COA said that “Notwithstanding the documents submitted by BASOC, the reasonableness of the actual costs incurred by BASOC could not be established without BASOC's own work plan, cost estimates and project specifications as basis for comparison with the one prepared by the supplier.” In brief, these documents appear to be fabrications since there are no bases for what they claim.

Will Puentevella make new ones to fit the amount to a T? Has he not been given enough time?

Puentevella, of course, challenged the conclusions of COA but even so “any financial assistance shall be liquidated within 30 days after completion of the purpose for which it was given and that no fund releases shall be made to any party with unliquidated financial assistance/cash balance.” Indeed Puentevella took years to file a liquidation report.

Puentevella claimed exemption to this rule but COA said “Records will show that petitioner was given more than three years or way beyond the 90-day period from the issuance of the NS or June 7, 2010 up to the issuance of the ND on January 30, 2014 within which to comply with the NS…”

The former congressman used every argument in the book including an admission that he did not have the assistance of experts (a rather foolhardy claim), but in the end, Michael G. Aguinaldo, COA Chairperson and the commissioners, Jose A. Fabia and Isabel D. Agito junked his petition.

Unless COA accepts his new motion for reconsideration, the case will now move on to the Ombudsman that will have to decide on the complaint of malversation of public funds.

While Puentevella escaped the plunder case that will not allow bail, the malversation case is just as deadly because malversation does not also allow bail. The accused will have to wait for the resolution of his case in detention.

Perhaps when this happens that Puentevella will work and spend much to make the wheels of justice move as fast as possible.

Former Bacolod Councilor Carl Lopez, who had been keeping a keen eye on the cases against Puentevella, said that he will file the case for malversation that will include other people connected with the expenditures of the BASOC funds. These people had also failed to account for the money that was entrusted to them.

The fortunes of Puentevella seem to be on the slide. His effort to reverse the May 2016 election failed. The fertilizer case is also moving and Lopez remains as vigilant as ever.

There is a reported “examination of the situation” among the MKK. The COA decision hastens the search for a new leader to oppose the incumbent Bacolod administration.*

           

 

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