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PH Army captain cleared of P2.1M liability in communist terrorist ambush

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by Allan Yves Briones

Philippine Army Captain Jonathan Zulueta was cleared of his liability over P2.1 million in supplies lost during a terrorist ambush in 2013.

“[T]here being no indication from the facts and circumstances of the case that the loss occurred through the negligence of the (Zulueta), this Commission rules to grant the request for relief from property accountability,” the Commission on Audit Commission Proper (COA-CP) ruled in a decision promulgated August 22.

On October 21, 2013, an army vehicle was ambushed in Tulunan, North Cotabato by 50 fully-armed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). Zulueta, the former Disbursing Officer of the 38th Battalion, 6th Infantry Division, was on board.

Soldies were reportedly forced to retreat, leaving behind ordnance items, personal properties and Civilian Active Auxiliary Subsistence Allowance totaling P2.1 million.

On September 20, 2017, Zulueta filed a request for relief from money accountability, endorsed by the COA regional director, which is the issue tackled by COA-CP in the present case.

In their decision, COA-CP granted the captain’s request for relief, citing Section 105 of Presidential Decree No. 1445:

“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,” the decision read.

Zulueta, according to COA-CP, cannot be faulted for negligence because the loss was caused by “ambush and bombing incidents initiated by the members of CPP-NPA-NDF” which are beyond his control.

The three-man panel is composed of Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc.

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