MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has ordered former and current executives of the state-run Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to return over P13 million in excess allowances.
In a decision obtained last Monday, the high court affirmed an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeals that upheld the notice of disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (EME) paid to the LWUA officials in 2006 amounting to P13,110,998.26.
The high court dismissed the petition filed by LWUA officials led by former administrator Daniel Landingin questioning the CA ruling.
The high court agreed with the finding of the CA that the COA was correct in disallowing the EME for the LWUA officials.
“The court finds that the COA did not commit any grave abuse of discretion as its affirmance of Notice of Disallowance No. 09-001-GF (06) is based on cogent legal grounds,” the high court held.
“Notice of Disallowance dated July 21, 2009 is therefore upheld and the persons therein held liable are ordered to duly return the disallowed amount of P13,110,998.26,” it added.
LWUA is a government-owned and controlled corporation with a specialized lending function mandated by law to promote and oversee the development of water supply systems in provincial cities and municipalities outside of Metro Manila.
Its previous chairman, former Surigao del Sur representative Prospero Pichay, was dismissed in July 2011 for alleged misuse of funds in the acquisition of a troubled thrift bank in 2008.
The COA, in its decision in August 2011, discovered the amount was paid to the LWUA officials for the period January to December 2006 without receipts and disbursement records required by a circular issued by the commission in the same year.
Landingin and other LWUA officials appealed the COA order, saying they were unaware of the existence of Circular No. 2006-001 dated Jan. 3, 2006.
But the high court ruled the issuance of COA’s notice of disallowance was regular and within the commission’s constitutional powers.