The Commission on Audit (COA) is calling for the filing of administrative charges against “accountable officials” of the provincial government of Palawan (PGP) responsible for unliquidated cash advances that amounted to a total of P64.7 million as of CY 2020.

The recommendation was contained in the newly released audit report by the state audit body on the province’s financial status, which also included critical observations on the provincial government’s fund management.

“Cash advances totaling P64,693,230.26 remained unliquidated at year-end contrary to Section 5.8 of COA Circular No. 97-002 dated February 10, 1997, thereby exposing cash to the risk of loss and/or misuse. Moreover, cash advances totaling P18,698,357.68 were granted despite the absence of a certificate of liquidation from the Provincial Accountant and/or non-liquidation of previous cash advances,” the report stated.

In pushing for drastic action against accountable officials, the COA audit team pointed out it had been pointing to the same problem to the PGP in its previous audit report.

The report urged the provincial legal officer to “initiate the filing of appropriate charges against erring accountable officers who still failed to settle their account upon demand.”

“We recommend that the provincial governor, through the OIC-Provincial Accountant, to determine the address of and send demand letters to accountable officers who are no longer connected with the PGP, enforce the collection of their accountabilities without prejudice to the statute of limitations as provided by law, and ensure that officers and employees who will retire, resign, or transfer to other agency are required to settle first their accountabilities before issuing the clearance from money and property accountability,” the report said.

Among the unliquidated funds cited by state auditors were amounts released to medical officials supposedly in relation to the province’s Covid-19 response.

The report was critical of the PGP’s spending on its pandemic response, citing its utilization rate of only 51 percent.

The report also took the province to task for its failure to accurately reflect its fund balance as of the end of December, citing large “discrepancies” between its bank account balances and recorded transactions.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.