Traffic worker swipes P492K of Mandaue’s funds, sued

·4 min read

A JOB order worker assigned in Mandaue City’s traffic office was fired and sued by the city government after he allegedly made “double payments” of the salaries of other contractual workers in their office last year, causing the government to lose P492,000 in funds.

The extra payments, however, did not go to the contractual workers but only to the job order worker, who used it to fund his lifestyle.

The controversy was uncovered when the Commission on Audit (COA) initiated an investigation after finding discrepancies in the payrolls and supporting documents provided by the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team) for the periods of May 16 to June 16, 2021 and June 16 to July 15 of the same year.

State auditors then recommended that the City investigate its payroll personnel and also strengthen its controls in the processing of payrolls and the disbursement of salaries.

In response to the COA’s report, the Mandaue City Government initiated its own investigation and then sued the job order worker involved in the matter.

Forged signatures

In their 2021 audit report, state auditors found that from May 16 to June 16, 2021 and from June 16 to July 15 of the same year, job order workers assigned under Team were paid twice.

When state auditors inquired with Team on the matter, they found out from one of Team’s high-ranking officials that the processing of the payroll for their personnel was assigned to a job order employee.

They also found that the second claim for the two payroll periods was processed allegedly by the same job order employee without the Team officials’ knowledge and that some of the officials’ signatures were allegedly forged in the payroll documents.

State auditors also found that the second claim for the two payroll periods was not recorded in the individual index cards for Team’s concerned personnel.

“Had the payments been properly indexed, it could have detected these double payments,” they said.

Disbursement practices

State auditors also found that the City’s disbursing officers paid the salaries of job order (JO) workers through cash advance or handed over the equivalent cash or amount in the payroll to the JO worker assigned to process the payroll of the Team and not directly to the individual claimants.

State auditors recommended to city officials to investigate personnel involved in the processing of payrolls and determine those accountable for the double payment. They also required the immediate return of the P492,000 to the city’s coffers.

‘Out-of-town trips’

On Friday, July 15, 2022, Mandaue City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan told SunStar Cebu that after COA revealed its findings to them earlier this year, they immediately conducted their own investigation and were able to confront the job order worker involved.

The JO worker was eventually fired and sued before the Mandaue City Prosecutor’s Office earlier this year for qualified theft and estafa.

But before he was fired, the job order worker told Calipayan and officials of Mandaue’s City Legal Office that he had used the money to fund personal trips outside Cebu.

SunStar Cebu is withholding the job order worker’s identity until his comment is secured.

Not alone

Calipayan added that while the JO worker immediately admitted to masterminding the double payment of salaries to Team’s contractual employees, he believes that the suspect may have had accomplices in committing the crime.

“Considering the huge amount of money he pocketed and how boldly he committed the crime, there is that possibility that he was working with another person and may have shared the loot with that accomplice,” Calipayan said in Cebuano.

Refund

Aside from Calipayan, members of the city’s management team also vowed, in their reply to COA, to secure a refund from the job order worker.

“With regard to the refund of the double payment, the City Administrator stated that in case of failure of the job order personnel to settle his liability, the persons liable for the disbursement shall assume the responsibility,” the city’s management team said in their reply to COA’s report.

Calipayan added that they also implemented measures to ensure that the incident is not repeated, including appointing four people, all regular employees, to handle the payroll of their JO employees.

In January this year, Calipayan issued an office memorandum instituting changes in the city’s payroll system.

Calipayan added that they also ensured that all job order workers hired by the City would secure automated teller machine (ATM) cards to avoid using cash advances for their salaries.

As of Friday, only 1,000 of the city’s 3,000 job order workers had yet to secure ATM cards.

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