After 22 years, ex-Sen. Webb still keeps P112,928.30 refunded office rental deposit – COA

Published August 1, 2021, 2:36 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit records has revealed that former Senator Freddie Webb continues to fail to return to government the P112,928.30 unspent office rental deposit for an office space reportedly “refunded” to him during his incumbency as senator in 1998.

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Webb’s failure to surrender the amount allegedly received by his office has been raised as an audit issue in the recently released 2020 Annual Audit Report for the Senate.

In the audit report, COA demanded an explanation from the Senate to justify its inability to return P185,881.22 in outstanding accounts that included the rental deposit.

Decision No. 2015-261 released by the COA-Commission Proper on October 26, 2015 showed that the state audit agency denied a request from Senate Deputy Secretary for Administration and Financial Services Arnel Jose Bañas to write off the fund as dormant account.

“The account of former Senator Webb represents the unused rental deposit for an office space at Ramon Magsaysay Center (RMC) in Roxas Boulevard, Manila, that he used during his incumbency, amounting to P112,928.30,” the decision read.

COA records indicated that RMC President Carmencita Abella insisted that the rental deposit, totaling P212,569.14 “was fully returned” through Webb’s office. The check for the payment was received by Alfredo Padilla, head executive assistant of the office.

The total amount sought to be written off by was P152,583.27 which included the money allegedly given to Webb, the value of a lost firearm and the overpayment of terminal benefit for a former Senate employee.

Bañas made the request to write off the dormant accounts since Webb and the two other employees with outstanding accounts have failed to respond to the demand for the return of the money.

“Several demand letters requesting the refund of the subject rental deposit were sent by the Senate to former Senator Webb but no reply was received from the latter,” the COA-CP revealed in its decision.

Demand letters were sent through registered mail “but to no avail”, the COA officials said.

In its decision, the COA-CP stressed that the dormant accounts “are not proper subjects for write-off.” “On the receivable from former Senator Webb, management should follow up the demand letters already given to the former Senator since the Senator’s whereabouts is still known,” the panel said.

Webb was elected senator in 1992 and chaired the Committees on Health and Demography and on Games and Amusements.

 
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