Accountable Officer Essay Sample

Accountable Officer Pages
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Pursuant to Section 101 (1) of Presidential Decree No. 1445[1] (PD 1445), an accountable officer is one whose duty permits or requires the government officer possession or custody of government funds or property:

“Section 101. Accountable Officers; Bond Requirement. — (1) Every officer of any government agency whose duties permit or require the possession or custody of government funds or property shall be accountable therefor and for the safekeeping thereof in conformity with law.” [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]

Section 340 of the Local Government Code provides the same definition of an accountable officer:

“Section 340. Persons Accountable for Local Government Funds. – Any officer of the local government unit whose duty permits or requires the possession or custody of local government funds shall be accountable and responsible for the safekeeping thereof in conformity with the provisions of this Title. Other local officers who, though not accountable by the nature of their duties, may likewise be similarly held accountable and responsible for local government funds through their participation in the use or application thereof.” [Emphasis supplied]

In Torres vs. People, 656 SCRA 486 (2011), the Supreme Court defined an accountable officer as one who has custody or control of public funds or property by reason of the duties of his office:

“An accountable public officer, within the purview of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, is one who has custody or control of public funds or property by reason of the duties of his office. The nature of the duties of the public officer or employee, the fact that as part of his duties he received public money for which he is bound to account and failed to account for it, is the factor which determines whether or not malversation is committed by the accused public officer or employee. Hence, a school principal of a public high school, such as petitioner, may be held guilty of malversation if he or she is entrusted with public funds and misappropriates the same.”

In view of the foregoing, an accountable officer has the responsibility to account and safekeep government funds and property in their possession or custody hence disbursements should only be made in accordance with the law. Hence as accountable officers they are duty-bound to use reasonable skill and diligence in the performance of their duties:

“As clerk of court, Nolasco was duty-bound to use reasonable skill and diligence in the performance of her duties. She was an accountable officer entrusted with the responsibility of collecting and depositing money belonging to the court. She obviously failed to fulfill this responsibility and even converted the court’s funds for her personal use. Her failure to account for the money entrusted to her, and to adequately explain and present evidence thereon, constitutes gross dishonesty, grave misconduct and even malversation of public funds which this Court will never countenance.”

As such accountable officers, they are liable for the value in money of the fund or property in their possession in case of loss, misapplication, misappropriation, and deterioration in accordance with Section 105 of PD 1445:

“Section 105.Measure of Liability of Accountable Officers. — (1) Every officer accountable for government property shall be liable for its money value in case of improper or unauthorized use or misapplication thereof, by himself or any person for whose acts he may be responsible. He shall likewise be liable for all losses, damages, or deterioration occasioned by negligence in the keeping or use of the property, whether or not it be at the time in his actual custody.

(2)Every officer accountable for government funds shall be liable for all losses resulting from the unlawful deposit, use, or application thereof and for all losses attributable to negligence in the keeping of the funds”

Pursuant to their duty of keeping custody and possession of government funds and property, accountable officers are required to render an account as such number of times as may be required by the law or rules:

“Section 107.Time and Mode of Rendering Account. — In the absence of specific provision of law, all accountable officers shall render their accounts, submit their vouchers, and make deposits of money collected or held by them at such times and in such manner as shall be prescribed in the regulations of the Commission.”

Rendering an account is the means by which the government or the entrusting authority determines the accountability of the public officer concerned. The accountable officer must clearly demonstrate the amounts of receipts and disbursements, and that such disbursements are valid and lawful. So important is the rendering of an account that the Revised Penal Code makes it prima facie evidence of malversation any accountable public officer who fails to render am account of public funds or property of which he is chargeable. Article 214 states:

“Article 217.Malversation of Public Funds or Property — Presumption of Malversation. — x x x

The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal uses.” [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]

In Legrama vs. Sandiganbayan, 672 SCRA 270 (2012), the Court held that evidence proving the shortage of funds is enough to support a conviction for
Malversation:

“More importantly, in malversation of public funds, the prosecution is burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt, either by direct or circumstantial evidence, that the public officer appropriated, misappropriated or consented, or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take public property or public funds under his custody. Absent such evidence, the public officer cannot be held criminally liable for malversation. Mere absence of funds is not sufficient proof of conversion; neither is the mere failure of the public officer to turn over the funds at any given time sufficient to make even the prima facie case. In fine, conversion must be proved. However, an accountable officer may be convicted of malversation even in the absence of direct proof of misappropriation so long as there is evidence of shortage in his account which he is unable to explain.”

The Court in Candao vs. People, 659 SCRA 696 (2011), held that all that is necessary in the crime of malversation is that the accountable officer had received public funds, that he did not have them in his possession when demand therefor was made, and that no explanation was made for such failure:

“In the crime of malversation, all that is necessary for conviction is sufficient proof that the accountable officer had received public funds, that he did not have them in his possession when demand therefor was made, and that he could not satisfactorily explain his failure to do so. Direct evidence of personal misappropriation by the accused is hardly necessary in malversation cases.” ———————–

[1] Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

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