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PIA Press Release

Fact-finding body on missing San Carlos funds to submit results soon

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (26 June) -- The disbursing officer from San Carlos City who claimed to have been robbed of P9 million while inside a Land Bank branch in that city on March 31 tried to restore the amount by depositing a personal check which however bounced.

This was gathered from the testimony of Leny Fermin who finally agreed to appear last Monday before the fact-finding body created by Mayor Julier "Ayoy" Resuello. City Legal Officer Rodolfo Samson heads the probe body.

Fermin told the body that she had tried to return the money thru her personal account but failed as her check bounced because of lack of funds. "Natakot ako at nagpanic… gusto ko sanang gawan ng paraan at maibalik yong pera," she said as she replied to a question whether she had issued a check worth P9 million thru her account at the Allied Bank branch.

Fermin, who reportedly tried to commit suicide by slashing her wrist and confined in a hospital for about a week, narrated that last March 31, she withdrew P9 million from the Land Bank branch. While waiting for her companion Arsenio Austria whom he had asked to get a police escort, a man and a woman seated beside her and declared their intention and also warned her of possible harm to her family.

Forced to ride on a waiting van outside which drove toward the east, she said the robbers left her in barangay Bolingit, near the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital. They warned her that her two kids and husband would be harmed, she narrated.

Fermin, who practically repeated her statement to the police on May 18, said she went to her home in a tricycle to look for her two children and found them unharmed. She said she decided not to tell her ordeal to her husband when the latter got home at night. She also did not report the matter to anyone.

She said she was "mentally disturbed" and still shaken when she reported for work on the following day. "Nagtataka nga sila kung bakit tayo na ako nang tayo habang nagpapasueldo," she told the body.

Many however scoffed at her claims.

Asked why she prepared the check for P9 million when the disbursement voucher for it had not been signed by the mayor, she said it was a routine practice in her office to prepare the voucher and check at the same time, adding that she only noticed the unsigned voucher when the city accountant told her about it.

Resuello earlier claimed that his signature on the check was forged prompting him to ask the help of the National Bureau of Investigation. The mayor also furnished the NBI and the fact-finding body several specimens of his signature.

Fermin, per advice of her lawyer Florante Magat, who sat beside her at the hearing, chose to remain silent on questions surrounding other checks that she prepared - P5 million on April 3 and P2 million on March 16. She begged off also from answering further questions about her bank accounts claiming such questions were outside of the issue at hand, the missing P9 million.

She only said that since her family is engaged in a business, she needs to maintain bank accounts. Her Allied and Metrobank accounts were already closed, she said.

Interviewed after the hearing, Samson said that the fact-finding team might terminate its hearing after two sessions and submit in a week its report to the local executive.

Also invited to shed light on the matter was city Treasurer Arturo Mandapat, Jr. Earlier, the Land Bank San Carlos branch manager appeared before the body.

The Commission on Audit, for its part, is undertaking audit at the city treasury office while the sangguniang panlungsod is conducting a separate investigation. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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