Breaking News, Indepht Analysis
By Eva Visperas
In a 33-page decision issued last June 26 and signed by CSC-Region 1 director Nestor Sarmiento, municipal accountant Evelyn Bernabe, municipal treasurer Susana Bauzon and assistant municipal treasurer Marilyn Gonzales were found guilty of grave misconduct.
Gonzales, according to CSC, committed irregularities in preparing padded checks while Bernabe and Bauzon tolerated it by failing to perform their duties of safeguarding the finances of the municipal government.
The CSC said the failure of Bernabe and Bauzon to notice the irregularities in several payrolls for several months is highly inexcusable, making the agency conclude that they indeed knew such wrongdoing but did not do anything to prevent them.
“Millions were unlawfully taken from government funds and substantial evidence point to the three respondents as the persons responsible,” the CSC said.
“Public service requires utmost integrity and strictest discipline… Respondents clearly failed to observe this exacting standard in the case herein,” it added.
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Gonzales, according to the CSC, encashed the padded checks that she had prepared, and that the excess amounts were not duly accounted for or liquidated.
Gonzales, in her comment on Sept. 7, 2012, claimed that she “acted only upon the instructions of my superior officers to perform such task.”
“That although the charges against us are generally true, I have acted however under a strong impulse of an uncontrollable fear of my superior officers…,” she added.
For her part, Bernabe said that as far as she knew, it was solely Gonzales who had the duty to prepare and encash checks and she had no hand in this.
Bauzon, meanwhile, said she neither acquiesced to nor concurred with Gonzales’ wrongdoing of padding the payroll checks.
But the CSC said it found it hard to believe that Bernabe and Bauzon “were not able to notice such alterations perpetrated in several payrolls for almost every month in 2011 and the early months of 2012.”
The CSC said it is convinced that the two knew the irregularities committed by Gonzales “but simply closed their eyes.”
The formal charge against the three Mangaldan officials stemmed from a complaint filed in May 2012 before the CSC regional office by the late mayor Herminio Romero based on a notice of disallowances.