Paying back will not absolve ex-town purser in mystery heist, PLO says

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental provincial legal officer Atty Alberto Nellas said that even if former Isabela town treasurer Nenette Escarda will pay back what was lost from the town’s treasury, she will not be cleared of the charges filed against her.

“Paying back will not absolve her,” said Nellas.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson ordered Escarda’s dismissal from service after she was found guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and malversation of public funds.

The Provincial Legal Office recommended the dismissal from service of Nenette Escarda based on substantial evidence gathered in a probe.

The charges were filed against Escarda after she reportedly brought home funds from the town’s treasury amounting to P2.6 million in cash and P3.8 million in checks without authority from the chief executive.

She alleged that the cash and checks were stolen from her house.

A cash examination on Escarda conducted by the Commission on Audit dated January 31, 2023 found that P6,629,146.18 in collections remained undeposited as of January 20, 2023 and P972,000 in cash advances remained unliquidated as of the cut-off date, PLO head Atty. Alberto Nellas said.

Her lawyer Cesar Beloria, legal counsel of Nenette Escarda told reporters that instead of filing a motion for reconsideration with the office of the governor, they will file an appeal with the CSC.

Beloria said his client received the dismissal order last May 9, 2023 and supposedly will have 15 days to file an MR.

“We opted to file an appeal with the CSC,” Beloria said adding that he was at the provincial capitol to furnish a copy to the office of the governor.

“So we will be filing it before the Civil Service Commission, we will file straight to the Civil Service Commission in Quezon City regarding the decision of the province of Negros Occidental against my client Nenette Escarda,” he added.

Beloria pointed out that “we opted not to file a motion for reconsideration with the provincial government anymore, anyway ultimately it will be the CSC that will decide.”

He said the move aims to allow Escarda to get her retirement benefits.

“The theory there is my client does not believe nga commensurate ang penalty on what happened,” he pointed out.

He further said that “although there was an admission nga may nagkaladula gid man, we are just treading the correct procedure and obviously with this appeal the CSC will consider reviewing the decision of the province.”

Beloria also said that “while my client is respecting the jurisdiction of the province over her, it is also her right to due process mga mag undergo sang appeal.”

As to the plan of the local government to file criminal charges against his client, Beloria said “it is expected, it is the right and prerogative of the municipal government of Isabela especially when it involves the property/funds of the local government unit.”

He said his client is willing to face the charges.

He reiterated that it is also the right of his client to file an appeal otherwise it will become final and executory.

Beloria said that his client has been silent about the case but has consistently indicated that she is willing to pay back what was lost.

“In fact the family is raising funds, to recompensate the loss, they are selling properties to show good faith and that there is no ill intent on her part,” he further said.

Beloria further said that  Escarda will pay back what was lost whether she wins the case or not.

He pointed out, though, that as far as the checks amounting to more than P3 million, Escarda has issued an affidavit of loss.

Lank Bank was informed including the taxpayers who issued check payments to the LGU so there was no encashment, he added.

Basically what was lost involving the checks ang papel lang, Beloria said.

He added that the issue is the P2.6  million in cash that was alleged by Escarda that was stolen from her house.

Beloria said that as to the P900,000 unliquidated cash advances, these were already liquidated.

He said that the P900,000 were cash advances reportedly utilized by the Mayor’s Office for financial assistance to typhoon Odette victims.

“We want to do away with the impression that it was used by my client,” Beloria said.