The Committee on Audit of the Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) questioned SUSG President Kirk Philip Emperado for borrowing money from an event during “Genesis” week to give ice cream to students.
In a committee report, Rep. Jahdielle Keemmah Kitane raised concerns against the act during the assembly last July 19 at Oriental Hall. The report said that the free ice cream given out last June 10 as a gimmick in Genesis or freshmen week was not included in the budget proposal.
Chairperson of the Committee on Audit, Rep. Kitane said that it was a “misappropriation of public funds, otherwise known as technical malversation, found in Article 220 in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (RPC).”
“Tata ice cream was bought at Php3,270 for it to be free for all students. The money used to pay for the ice cream came from the budget of the Christian Night, an event also scheduled last June 10 as a part of Genesis,” Kitane said.
Each event under Genesis week was given a separate budget. According to the report, Christian Night had a budget of Php5,500, but only Php1,488 was used. The remaining Php4,011 was used to pay for Tata ice cream, which was not used in the Christian Night.
“I believe that there should be proper consequences with this, because in the real world, this misappropriation of public funds is a criminal offense,” said Rep. Kitane.
Rep. Niña Sung, a member of the Committee on Audit, investigated on the transaction made by Emperado and Finance Committee Chairperson Joyce Pino.
She said that they were planning to take it out on the cash that they will receive from the sponsors.
“The idea is that the money should not come from the budget of the students and of the SG, so it should come from sponsorship. We knew there was Php45,000 coming from the sponsors – Php25,000 from Sun-Life and Php20,000 from Smart,” said Emperado in an interview with the Weekly Sillimanian.
Pres. Emperado and Pino decided to continue the ice cream plan because there was enough money from the sponsors. But the money did not arrive the week it was needed.
“Christian Night had extra cash at the said time. They decided to pay for the ice cream for the meantime, since the expense would be offset once the money from the sponsors came in,” said Rep. Sung.
The amount was repaid as soon as the money from the sponsors arrived.
However, Rep. Kimberly Flores opposed Rep. Sung’s explanation.
“It’s called a ‘proposal’ in the first place because it’s a blueprint to be followed. What is the point of having a budget proposal if you don’t even follow it?” Flores said.
Rep. Sung said that budget proposals are not made as exact guides for expenses.
“As an accountancy student, when you say budget proposal, it is a ‘proposal,’ which means it is subject to estimations. Estimates are not always accurate,” Sung said.
Rep. Sung added that it seems they are accusing Pres. Emperado and Pino of committing a crime, but her findings show that there was no bad faith or intentions.
“I did not find any proof that arose my suspicions that there [was a malversation of] funds,” said Rep. Sung.
But Rep. Flores insisted that it was as a technical malversation.
Rep. Yasmeen Junaid from the College of Law explained in the assembly that the issue was neither a misappropriation nor a malversation of funds.
“[The ice cream] was a certain activity within a big activity, but the appropriation is specifically for Genesis, so we cannot say that there has been a misappropriation of fund,” said Rep. Junaid.
Rep. Junaid added that Pres. Emperado and Pino choosing to admit the expense for the ice cream under Christian Night showed good faith.
“They did not change it to show transparency,” said Rep. Junaid.
For technical malversation under the RPC, good faith can be raised as a defense.
“It’s like they’re accusing me out of nothing. We just borrowed [the money] and returned it,” said Emperado, who was not summoned to explain during the assembly.
Speaker of the House Ebenezer Manzano clarified in the assembly that no accusation was ordered.
“We are not saying that the president committed a crime. It’s just the report of the committee on audit. We don’t accuse people of things because we are not a judicial branch,” said Rep. Manzano.
By Jameela Antoniette I. Mendoza