Prov’l board to Ombudsman: Probe missing Laoag funds

>> Tuesday, July 4, 2017

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte -- The provincial board urged the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate missing Laoag City Treasurer Elena Asuncion and the loss of at least P85.4 million in government funds under her care.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan, in a resolution, cited their earlier request for Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to probe “the absconding of the Laoag City Treasurer and the loss of [amount] in the City Government of Laoag and if warranted to file the appropriate criminal and/or administrative charge/s against the persons and/or government officials responsible for the loss of taxpayers' money."
Asuncion flew out of the country on June 14, 2016 for Hawaii.  
She reportedly left before Laoag City Mayor Chevylle Fariñas, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas’ daughter, could relieve her over discrepancies uncovered in the city government’s accounts.
 Provincial board member Vicentito Lazo, a lawyer, said the investigation into Laoag City's missing funds has to be fast-tracked for people to know who should be held accountable.
 He said that the loss of city funds "have been overshadowed by Rep. Fariñas’ concentration on the alleged tobacco excise tax misuse issue."
The congressman initiated hearings on the use of P66.45 million in tobacco excise tax funds in 2011 and 2012 that were allegedly misused to buy motor vehicles.
The investigation into the alleged misuse of funds has seen the House detain six Ilocos Norte provincial government employees for contempt.
The House panel conducting the probe has also voted to issue a show-cause order against three Court of Appeals justices who ordered the so-called "Ilocos Six" released over a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The same panel has issued a subpoena for Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos to appear at the next hearing.
 Board member Lazo said that Fariñas filed House Resolution No. 882 in March 14, 2017, a day after the SP released the National Bureau of Investigation's report regarding the case of Laoag City's funds.
The NBI report revealed, Lazo said, that the Laoag City government did not do anything when it found out about the missing funds.

"Nine years nang ninanakawan ang pera ng Siyudad ng Laoag. Taon-taon, may audit ang City. Obligasyon ng auditor at Mayor na tignan at protektahan ang pondo… pero bakit mula July 2007, ayon sa NBI report, hanggang December 2015, tahasang napayagan na ninanakaw ang pera? Dapat malaman ng Kongreso ang dahilan,"  the provincial board member said.


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