Ex-bgy. Treasurer nabbed in Laguna
San Andres, Catanduanes  ·  
posted 10-Jul-2019  ·  
427 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

A former barangay treasurer wanted by the Regional Trial Court here in connection with multiple counts of malversation of public funds filed against her and a barangay captain has been arrested in Laguna province.

Last June 25, 2019, personnel of the San Andres police led by PSSg Maricel Masagca arrested Merly Magno Sabalza, 40, at barangay Ganado in Biñan, Laguna on the basis of the standing warrant of arrest for 43 counts of violation of Sec. 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 issued by RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras, with recommended bail f P30,000 for each count.

It may be recalled that a special audit conducted by the Commission on Audit on the transactions of barangay Catagbacan in San Andres during the years the oversight function of the municipal accounting office was lifted discovered various anomalies, including undocumented payments and unliquidated cash advances by two top officials.

According to the report, the audit focused on allegations that then barangay captain Lauro Zuniega, who became a Sangguniang Bayan member, and barangay treasurer Merly Sabalza failed to submit the 2009 and 2010 annual investment plan and annual budget, supporting documents for various transactions from 2008 to 2010, and its bank statements since November 2007.

The COA team found that the barangay council did not prepare nor submit for approval the AIP and budget for CY 2009 and 2010, contrary to the provisions of Republic Act 7160. Before he went into hiding following the filing of numerous counts of malversation against him and Sabalza, Zuniega claimed they were not able to prepare the plan because the council members did not cooperate with him. He and fellow officials did not submit a written explanation of the matter.

An audit of the transactions from 2008 to 2009 showed that there were 27 checks issued by Zuniega and Sabalza as payments of obligations despite the absence of approved disbursement vouchers and supporting documents, among other violations.

Instead of explaining the issue, Zuniega told the auditors he would take responsibility for four checks worth a total of P51,000. Disbursements for various cash advances totalling P157,607.00 under Sabalza’s name likewise remained unliquidated, with the treasurer settling P85,250 for four checks as well as for P3,380 in undeposited collections.

As a result, the audit team issued notice of disallowances for 13 undocumented checks covering the total amount of over P88,000 and recommended the filing of administrative or criminal charges against the duo for malversation.

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