COA orders 5 ex-Visayas state school officials to refund US trip expenses

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2019 12:23 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2019 04:58 PM

MANILA - Five officials of the Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban City were ordered by the Commission on Audit to return to the government a total amount of P1.38 million spent for their visit to the United States in 2009.

In a resolution of the Commission on Audit proper dated December 21, 2018, the motion for reconsideration of EVSU president and former Vice President Dr. Dominador Aguirre Jr. Board of Regents chairperson Dr. Nona Ricafort, board members Samuel Paete and Atty. Buenaventura Go-Soco and College of Engineering dean Engr. Danilo Pulma assailing the decision of COA Region VIII to issue notice of disallowances was denied.

Aguirre Jr. is being ordered to pay P314,040.38; Ricafort, P131,432.40; Paete, P307,151.68; Go-Soco, P307,151.68 and Pulma P323,095.96.

“Their invocation of good faith is unavailing. Thus, they are required to refund the amounts incurred in their foreign travel,” the COA said in the resolution signed Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc.

The commission reiterated that the officials violated Executive Order No. 248 or rules for official foreign travels, Administrative Order No. 103 or austerity measures in government and Republic Act No. 8292 or the Education Modernization Act of 1997 particularly on the utilization of special trust funds of the university.

In their motion for reconsideration, the officials said the reimbursements “would wreck financial hardship on the movants” and the money they spent was “devoted to good use.”

They also said that they relied on the sufficiency of the travel authority signed by then university president Dr. Catalino Beltran.

Beltran was also issued a notice of disallowance amounting to P368,423.38 but paid the amount upon his retirement in 2012.