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Sapian ex-admin charged for malversation, non-liquidation

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By Ralph John Mijares

 

SAPIAN, CAPIZ—A former administrative aide who worked for former Sapian Mayor Arturo Orosco faces 17 charges of malversation and 17 charges of failure to render accounts because of his unliquidated travel expenses.


The municipality of Sapian represented by Edna Santiago, acting municipal accountant, filed the cases against Lani Arnz Caberte in December 2013.


Caberte, who served as Orosco’s executive assistant, had 18 separate cash advances for travel expenses in attending seminars and conferences around the Philippines from August 2009 to November 2012, totalling P216,887.04.

 

In a radio interview, Caberte said that he had liquidated part of the said expenses, and has a balance of P141,000. But he also said he was confused on the right amount he still has to liquidate.


In a seven-page resolution from the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Capiz, Caberte’s balance was P 149,959.10 after making payments on October 24 and 31, 2013.

 

In a counter-affidavit, Caberte said that he submitted documents to the municipal accounting office but because he still lacked some of them, they were not turned over to the Commission on Audit (COA).


In her complaint-affidavit, Santiago said that from January to August 2013, a total of P11,000 was withheld as sanction and as payment for his travel expenses in attending a conference at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in Olongapo City. Said amount was deducted from a check dated August 14, 2009 amounting P12,000, which was used as his budget, leaving a balance of P 1,000.


The resolution said that Caberte committed malversation because he failed to “liquidate the cash advances within the period required by law.”


It added that the Municipality of Sapian received COA Circular No. 2012-04, dated November 28, 2012 with the subject: “Demand for Immediate Liquidation and Settlement of All Cash Advances Outstanding as of December 31, 2011.”


The resolution also said that “[Caberte] could have taken necessary steps to settle all his cash advances even without any demand at all. Sadly, he just ignored it.”


It further said that though Caberte partially settled the balance, he is still liable for malversation.


It added that Caberte failed to render his accounts because he admitted that “there is a continuing liquidation (on his part).”


Citing another COA circular, it stated: “Failure of accountable officer to liquidate his outstanding cash advance on or before January 31, 2013 shall constitute cause for the filing of malversation charge under Art. 217 and failure to liquidate cash advance under Art. 218 of the Revised Penal Code.”


Caberte said that when he consulted the COA, he was advised to either liquidate or pay off the remaining balance.


In an interview, incumbent Sapian Mayor Arthur John Biñas said that the COA had nothing to do with the case. He said that Caberte should have settled the unliquidated amount with the municipal government and not the COA.


Biñas said that if only Caberte had settled the unliquidated amount a bit earlier, a case would not be filed.


The newly elected Sapian mayor said he has been seeking Caberte to come to his offi ce to settle the problem since August last year but the former administrative aide has not personally met with him.


Asked on his status, Caberte said that he filed his resignation in July but it was pending because he still had to settle his unliquidated expenses.


After Biñas assumed office in July 2013, Caberte went AWOL (absent without leave) and was later dismissed. (With reports from Edalyn Acta)

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