12 Capitol employees hit for ‘double claim’ of travel refund

By: Gerome Dalipe

THE Commission on Audit (COA) scored 12 employees of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol for claiming their travel expenses that were paid for by the host municipality in 2018.

The Capitol employees reimbursed their travel expenses although they were accommodated by the concerned municipality.

The state auditors, in their annual report on the Capitol’s financial transactions last year, said what the Capitol employees did was considered as “double claim,” a violation of the existing law.

“The reimbursements were tantamount to double claim because travel expenses, food, and lodging, were already shouldered by the host municipality,” read COA report.

Of the 12 Capitol employees, 10 personnel are assigned at the Provincial Assessor’s Office, while the two employees come from the Information Communication Technology Management Office.

The Capitol personnel were sent to Estancia town on official business on various dates from January to August 2018.

Two employees of the Capitol IT office claimed P1,476 for their travel expenses to Estancia on Jan. 24, 2018.

Six personnel of the Capitol assessor’s office received P11,640 for their travel expenses from Aug. 22 to 23, 2018.

The four other Provincial Assessor’s Office employees also received P6,090 for their travel expenses on May 16, 2018.

But verification by state auditors of travel expenses paid by the Provincial Government revealed that there were reimbursements for travel expenses of the above personnel.

An auditor assigned in Estancia, Iloilo verbally confirmed to the audit team the Capitol personnel who were reimbursed of their travel claims were accommodated by the municipality.

The accommodation included meals and lodging during their stay in Estancia.

Likewise, the auditors found discrepancies in the employees’ itinerary records.

Personnel of the Provincial Assessors’ Office declared they stayed in a resort in Conception on May 16, 2018.

But verification in the resort’s attendance sheet showed the above Capitol employees were in Estancia.

“These discrepancies and inconsistencies noted casted doubt on the correctness and integrity of the attached itinerary of travel,” the auditors said.

In the audit observation memorandum, the auditors recommended to the Provincial Government to formulate and implement policy and procedures in the processing of travel claims.

Such claims also should exclude travels with free meals and lodging provided by another government agency.

Since similar transactions continue to exist, the auditors said it appeared that no policy was formulated and controls carried out.

The provincial administrator informed the auditors the department heads of the concerned employees demanded the refund of the travel expenses.

The Capitol department heads also vowed to formulate their own controls to ensure that no double claims will happen again.

The current travel stipend for government personnel, regardless of rank and destination, is pegged at only P2,200 per day.

The above allowance covers expenses for accommodation, meals, and incidental expenses.

Executive Order 298 mandates a daily P800 allowance regardless of rank and destination.

Last March 15, 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 77, which prescribes rules and regulations and rates of expenses and allowances for official local and foreign travels of government personnel.

EO 77 provides official allowances for official, local and foreign travels of government personnel expenses of not more than P2,200 daily.

Duterte’s newest executive order superseded EO 298, which mandates a P800 allowance regardless of rank and destination.