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CoA holds Nueva Ecija mayor accountable for P22-M municipal hall fire damage 

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) declared the town mayor of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija accountable for a P22-million damage in the municipal hall caused by a fire in June 2013.    

In a decision dated May 30, 2022 but only posted on CoA’s website recently, state auditors said Mayor Arvin C. Salonga’s “negligence as an official who failed to insure the municipal building against unexpected occurrences became the proximate cause of the loss or damage to government property.”  

Auditors also cited that the local government did not insure the municipal building with the General Insurance Fund as required under existing laws.   

“His failure to do so deprived the municipality of the value and use of the municipal building, such great financial loss on the government’s end,” CoA said.   

State auditors denied Mr. Salonga’s request for relief from property accountability on July 21, 2016, three years after the incident. He said that the delay in filing for relief was because he was not mayor of San Antonio between June 2013-June 2016.  

CoA, however, said Mr. Salonga still had 23 days to notify auditors of the incident before the end of his term on June 30, 2013 based on Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code.   

The fire incident took place 22 days before the end of his term. 

Mr. Salonga is currently back as the town mayor after winning in the May 2022 elections.    

CoA auditors also noted that the fire was not accidental based on available evidence, but did not point to a culprit. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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