Mayor vows to go after brains of P6.4-million ‘mystery heist’

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Mayor Irene Montilla of Isabela, Negros Occidental on Friday vowed to run after whoever is responsible for the loss of municipal funds amounting to P2.6 million in cash, and P3.8 million in checks, which were reported missing by former municipal treasurer Nenette Escarda.

It was earlier reported that the missing funds totaled more than P3 million in cash and checks.

Escarda, who served as officer-in-charge of the Isabela Municipal Treasurer Office (MTO) was, replaced on Feb. 2 by Jessie Gumapas, as ordered by the Bureau of Local Government Finance.

Montilla asked for Escarda’s relief due to a loss of trust and confidence.

Escarda, who is now under investigation, reported to the police that the money and checks she hid inside a plastic container went missing last Jan 21, 2023.

When asked if Escarda had a history of taking the municipal government’s funds home, Montilla said they have yet to find out if she has been doing such practice.

But Montilla pointed out that municipal treasurers are forbidden from taking home any property of the municipal government. The mayor also already released an office order assigning somebody else, aside from Escarda, to deposit the municipal government’s funds to the bank.

Montilla assured Isabeleños, especially the municipal employees, including job order workers, that they have enough funds for their wages, and that delivery of services to the people will not be affected.

The missing money reportedly came from payments of real property taxes, business tax and other collections made by MTO employees from the end of December 2022 to January 2023, the mayor said.

“Rest assured, we will try to make, whoever is responsible, pay for this,” Montilla stressed.

The mayor also announced that she assigned new sets of personnel at the MTO, following the designation of a new head.