Commission on Audit: p1.3B Biñan assets ‘missing’

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has “red flagged” the city of Biñan, Laguna, over poor fiscal management under Mayor Walfredo ‘Arman’ Dimaguila with over P1.3 billion in city assets ‘missing’ and its available fund unable to service more than P160 million in debts and other obligations.

Based on the executive summary of its 2017 annual audit of the city’s finances, the latest available, state auditors headed by supervising auditor, Ethel Gervacio, said they can only express a “qualified opinion” on the financial health of Biñan in view of nearly two dozen “exceptions” they noted.

The executive summary is now available on the COA website while the entire report with a covering letter signed by Dir. Mario Lipana, was formally received by Dimaguila’s office last June 21, 2018.

Accordingly, state auditors found a huge P1.3 billion “difference” in the properties, plants and equipment (PPEs) of the city based on its own property and accounting records.

They recommended to Dimaguila that in case these ‘missing’ PPEs can no longer be accounted for, to make Atty. Eduardo Arriba, then the city general service office (GSO) chief, “account for the missing/unaccounted equipment and take necessary action against those who are responsible or accountable therefor.”

Arriba, however, was instead promoted as ‘City Legal Officer’ by Dimaguila with the approval of the city council last January thru Councilor Liza Cardeño.

The report also noted that 17 vehicles owned by the city are yet to be registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) while 26 others already distributed to their respective users were not issued any ‘Acknowledgement Receipt for Equipment’ (AREs).

The agency also noted that 47 parcels of properties owned by the city worth over P111 million face the risk of being lost thru “third party claims, illegal dispositions and court litigations” for Dimaguila’s failure to transfer their ownership to the city’s name.

The COA also noted that with only P116 million in its “trust fund account,” Biñan is not in a position to “cover current and prior years’ maturing obligations” totaling over P160 million or a deficit of over P44 million.

The deficit is despite the increase by over P587 million in the city’s income for the year, totaling more than P2.3 billion compared to its income of P1.7 billion in 2016.

The COA also sought the “refund” of over P36 million from the construction of the ‘Biñan Track Oval/Football Field’ in Bgy. Zapote where more than P287 million were allocated; the COA said their costing showed the project is only worth more than P250 million.

In addition, the COA also noted the failure of city officials to submit to its scrutiny, 147 ‘disbursement vouchers’ (DVs) covering their ‘cash advances’ totaling over P20 million and that for 2016, Dimguila only “fully implemented” 11 out of the 29 recommendations they submitted.

For their part, informed residents wonder why the city is faced with a budget deficit, claiming the basic services they are also presently receiving is only “minimal” in terms of free education and health care.