Gealon disapproves distribution of sacks of rice from city’s POP to Lahug fire victims
CEBU CITY, Philippines –The more than 200 sacks of rice that were in excess of the December 2018 purchase which former mayor Tomas Osmeña made cannot be used for purposes other than the implementation of the city’s Peace and Order Program (POP).
Lawyer Rey Gealon, head of the City Legal Office (CLO), said that Mayor Edgardo Labella would risk facing technical malversation charge should he push with his earlier plan of giving out at least 50 sacks of rice to families that were left homeless by a fire that hit Barangay Lahug in June just to prevent these from rotting.
“The Office does not recommend the release of the 50 sacks of rice funded under POP to the Department of Social Welfare and Service (DSWS) for the relief distribution to the fire victims of Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, as this may constitute technical malversation,” said Gealon.
Technical malversation charge may be filed against someone who appropriates government funds set aside for a specific program or projects for another purpose.
Osmeña signed an Executive Order No. 45 for the use of the city’s POP allocation for the purchase of 6, 000 sacks of rice in December 2018 for distribution to Angkas and habal-habal drivers who were affected by the Supreme Court order to already cease their operations.
Read More: Habal-habal drivers to get rice subsidy
Labella said in an earlier interview that the about 291 sacks of rice that remained from the December 2018 purchase are about to rot at the city’s warehouse located at the South Roads Properties (SRP).
In a September 17 letter which he sent to the City Council, Gealon said that while the program for which the sacks of rice were intended for was already completed when the SC suspension was lifted on May 2019, the excess rice cannot easily be re-allotted for another purpose.
Gealon advised Labella to instead find other POP related programs were the remaining sacks of rice would be helpful. | dcb
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