COA reduces ex-Mayor Bautista's P20-M intel fund liability to P830,000

The Commission on Audit has demanded from former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista the return of P830,000 out of the P20 million in intelligence and confidential funds (ICF) he received in 2010, saying that the disallowed expenditure was “irregular and illegal.”

In a decision released recently, the COA-Commission Proper reduced the amount of Bautista’s liability from the P20 million ICF that was originally covered by a notice of disallowance issued in 2015 to just P830,000.

“Accordingly, Notice of Disallowance (ND) No. 2015-01-001 dated January 30, 2015 on Mayor Bautista’s cash advances for the confidential and intelligence activities of the city for the second semester of calendar year 2010, is affirmed but the amount is reduced from P20,000,000.00 to P830,000.00,” the decision stated.

The COA-CP ruling was made after the former local chief executive filed a petition for review questioning the ND that covered the P20 million in cash advance released to him in 2010.

Originally, Bautista and Police Chief Inspector Ritchie R. Claravall were held liable for the ND but only the mayor contested its issuance.

COA Director Flerida Jimenez, head of the intelligence and confidential funds audit unit, issued the ND for various grounds.

She questioned the reasonableness of the ICF due to the absence of appropriation for Peace and Order Program (POP) in the city’s budget for the year.

There was also the absence of an approved Annual Investment Program and that there was “no evidence” presented to show that the amounts specified under the Quezon City Police Department Intelligence Action Plan “were actually spent for the specific projects identified” in the expenditures.

In response, Bautista stressed that the POP appropriation was provided for in the allocations for the Quezon City Police Department, QC Fire Department and Department of Public Order and Safety as reflected in the P9.42 billion city budget in 2010.

He said the liquidation reports and supporting papers for the cash advances were based on documentary requirements, among other justifications.

In its ruling, the COA CP upheld the reasonableness of the P20 million ICF, pointing out that it is within the 30 percent appropriation for POP.

The panel composed of COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioner Roland Pondoc ruled that “almost all activities undertaken by QC QC government as reflected in the submitted accomplishment reports pertain to the utilization of the ICF and in conformity with the governing laws, rules and regulations.”

However, the P830,000 expenditure was rejected as unjustifiable under the iCF. This covered expenses for seminars and trainings on anti-illegal drugs prevention; anti-carnaping and security orientation seminars.