LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The municipal council committee on ways and means recommended the full implementation of the computerization of the local government’s tax assessment and collection to prevent the failure to remit collected fees in the light of the reported P6.8 million unremitted fees from the coffers of the municipality.
Councilor Nestor T. Fongwan, Jr., president of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Benguet Chapter, stated there is also a need for the municipal government to strengthen its internal control mechanisms and for the conduct of regular meetings of the local chief executive and the department to immediately address pressing issues confronting the operations of the institution.
While there are available records on the said issue, he claimed that concerned officials must have a grasp of the daily operations of the municipal government for them to be able to come up with the appropriate action required for the issues and concerns that may transpire anytime to prevent similar incidents that could result to loss of more funds that are supposed to accrue to the coffers of the municipal government.
Fongwan pointed out that many local governments are now working on the computerization of their tax assessment and collection because it was proven that such system is effective and efficient in identifying questionable transactions that lead to loss of the supposed income for the municipality.
As a first-class municipality, he suggested that the local government must computerize vital transactions that will surely translate to efficient and effective delivery of quality services to the transacting public.
Earlier, the aforesaid committee chaired by Fongwan conducted an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the reported P6.8 million unremitted funds to the coffers of the local government. The said hearing reportedly focused on the recommended actions and legislations that have to be adopted to ensure that similar incidents will not be repeated in the future.
It can be recalled that a committee was created by Mayor Romeo K. Salda pursuant to Administrative Order (AO) No. 56, series of 2019, purposely to conduct an inventory of properties for which some municipal officials and employees were said to be accountable and to determine the responsibility for any shortage of remitted funds if there will be any.
The said committee came out with a report that showed the cash accountability of the concerned municipal officials amounting to P5.4 million.
The municipal government already sent appropriate demand letters to the family of the concerned municipal officials and employees for them to settle the said obligation while the approval of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the matter is being awaited.
Further, it was also recommended that the concerned municipal officials and employees make arrangements with the municipal government for the possible settlement of their accountabilities same within a prescribed period of more or less 5 days.
However, Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan disclosed that the municipal council already authorized Mayor Salda as the head of the municipal government to file the appropriate charges before the local court against the identified responsible individuals for such unremitted funds that were reportedly collected from the public market.
Subsequently, he claimed that said charges are now pending with the local court, thus, there is no more need to deal with the merits of the case as it may constitute sub judice.
For his part, Mayor Salda stipulated that the municipal government has already acted on the said matter and the result was the filing of the appropriate charges against the concerned municipal officials and employees and it is now up to them to defend themselves in the court where the said cases are now being litigated.
The mayor questioned the intention of the aforesaid inquiry when the matter had already been thoroughly discussed in a number of meetings to thresh out the problem that transpired and for the laying out of safety measures in the concerned offices of the municipal government to avoid the same incident from being repeated in the future, especially that the involved funds are the taxes of the people which must be protected at all times.
While he welcomed the conduct of the inquiry by the municipal council, he emphasized that the same must dwell on the recommendations on how to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future and to ensure that the collections of the municipal government are well protected from unnecessary interventions that might cause shortage in the collections that could cast doubts on the credibility of the municipal officials and employees handling the money of the taxpayers.