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PIA Press Release

Probe on missing funds in San Carlos City under way

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (5 June) -- A fact-finding body is now conducting investigation on the reported loss of some P9 million from the coffers of San Carlos City.

City Mayor Julier "Ayoy" Resuello said that other investigating bodies – the National Bureau of Investigation, the Commission on Audit, and the sanguniang panlungsod – are also looking into the case aside from the fact-finding body he created to find out the truth on a claim that a disbursement officer from the treasury office was held up last March at the Land Bank branch in San Carlos after withdrawing the amount allegedly for the salaries of City Hall personnel.

Lenny Fermin claimed that on March 31, two suspects took away the money from her right at the bank premises. Surprisingly, she reported the matter to the police only last week allegedly for fear of her life. But in another twist and for unclear reasons, she tried to end her life by slashing her hands. She is now confined at a private hospital in the city.

The NBI showed to newsmen cartographic sketches of two robbery suspects, a man and a woman, during the Engkuwentro sa Lenox forum of the Pangasinan Press and Radio Club last Wednesday. The investigating agency also summoned Thursday Treasurer Arturo Mandapat, cashier chief Marilyn Soliven, and metro aide Arsenio Austria to shed light on the controversy.

Mandapat earlier told newsmen that he had sent a series of memorandums to Fermin asking her to explain the seeming discrepancy in cash disbursements as compared to his own record. Fermin failed to explain her side, he said.

Resuello appeared not convinced by the treasurer’s move. He said he was aghast that he was the last to know of the missing funds and being the local executive, he said it was his prerogative to ask investigating bodies like the NBI. "Pero nagtaka ako nang malaman kong andon nang mga NBI," he said.

He also disclosed that there was something wrong going on in the treasury office. He said he asked the NBI to look into the voucher and the corresponding check that he purportedly signed. "Alam ko yong kawing at stroke ng aking signature at wala akong alam na pinirmahang voucher sa araw na yon," he said as he wondered why there would be a need to withdraw money on that day purportedly for salaries. "Tuloy-tuloy naman ang pasueldo bakit kailangan pang magwithdraw ng pera?" he asked.

Recaling a similar incident in Dagupan several years ago where a disbursing officer was put in a fix, observers said Fermin might have been forced into a situation not of her liking and so she might have invented the hold-up story. Resuello said he tended to believe that theory.

If there was that hold-up incident that day, Fermin could have alerted the city police and made noise. Resuello said that normally, bank withdrawals are done with utmost consideration for security, which, he noted, was not made that time.

Aside from the alleged hold-up incident, investigators are also looking into other reported missing city funds. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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