Whistleblower from COA-12 Dangal ng Bayan national finalist

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 September) — A government auditor who helped uncover an P18.3-million fund scam at the Sarangani provincial government eight years ago was chosen by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) as among the national finalists for this year’s prestigious Dangal ng Bayan Award.

Grace Saqueton, CSC Region 12 director, said auditor Helen Cailing of the Commission on Audit (COA)-Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao landed in the final list of nominees in the 2011 Search for Outstanding Public Officials and Employees Award due to her notable record as a government employee.

Aside from Cailing, Saqueton said two Region 12 nominees – Army Col. Jose Kakila of the Joint Task Force GenSan and Police Officer 3 Girlie Gay Saniado of the General Santos City Police Office – were earlier named semifinalists in the award’s Presidential Lingkod Bayan and
Pagasa categories, respectively.

The CSC said the Presidential Lingkod Bayan award is conferred on an individual or group for “exceptional contributions resulting from an idea or performance that had nationwide impact on public interest.”

It said the Dangal ng Bayan award is given to an individual “for performance of extraordinary act or public service and consistent demonstration of exemplary ethical behavior” based on the observance of the norms of conduct provided under Republic Act 6713.

The Pagasa award is granted to an individual or group for “outstanding contributions that directly benefit more than one department of government on a certain degree of standards,” the CSC said.

“The awards are part of the (CSC’s) annual search for our heroes in public service,” Saqueton said in a press statement from the South Cotabato Information Office.

Saqueton said Cailing, who is employed as COA State Auditor IV, presently heads the agency’s special audit team in Sarangani province.

A report released by CSC-Region 12 cited that Cailing already filed 30 cases of alleged fund misuse against various public officials in line with her work as state auditor.

It said 12 of the cases have already been elevated to the Sandiganbayan while 18 others are currently pending at a Regional Trial Court and at the Office of the Ombudsman.

In 2003, Cailing’s audit team discovered alleged fund releases made by the provincial government of Sarangani for “ghost” or fictitious development projects of several non-government organizations, people’s organizations and local government units in the province.

The alleged fraudulent and illegal fund releases, which were made under the watch of then governor Miguel Escobar, reached some P16.106 million.

Among the cases that were elevated to the Sandiganbayan was the financial assistance amounting to P2.246 million released by the provincial government of Sarangani to supposed local cooperatives, whose officials and members were mostly government personnel and close
relatives of some officials of the local government.

Saqueton said that as a national finalist, Cailing will receive a Dangal ng Bayan award and cash incentive of P200,000 in a ceremony slated at the Malacanang Palace.

“We don’t pay them for being good but we emphasize the best impact of being good examples to their fellow government employees,” she said.

Saqueton stressed that the annual search mainly highlights the importance on rendering good public service by all government workers. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)`