City Hall to appeal COA disallowance of brgy aid

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita June 23,2016 - 11:17 PM
Acting Cebu City Mayor Margarita Osmeña, Acting Vice Mayor Lea Japson, department heads and  COA-7 representatives met for an exit conference at City Hall yesterday. (CDN PHOTO/JOSE SANTINO BUNACHITA)

Acting Cebu City Mayor Margarita Osmeña, Acting Vice Mayor Lea Japson, department heads and COA-7 representatives met for an exit conference at City Hall yesterday. (CDN PHOTO/JOSE SANTINO BUNACHITA)

The Cebu City government will file an appeal with the Commission on Audit, which disallowed the P800 million aid to its 80 barangays last year.

“Any of their findings would disturb us. But one of the concerns we really have, not only in behalf of ourselves but especially the barangays, is for the financial assistance to the barangays because some of them tried to comply (with the order to return the money),” Acting Mayor Margot Osmeña told reporters yesterday .

“What happens now? Most of them have already spent portions of it (their aid), if not all, of what they received. So what happens?” she added.

Osmeña, Acting Vice Mayor Lea Japson and other city hall department heads met with representatives from COA-7 yesterday in an exit conference at City Hall to discuss 54 matters of concern, earlier raised by state auditors.

Aid for Barangays

The P800 million barangay aid earlier appropriated by the city council was to be given equally to each of the 80 barangays, or P10 million each.

But then Mayor Michael Rama vetoed the condition of equal amounts, which turned the entire budget into a lump sum allocation. This resulted in a situation where all disbursements needed prior approval from the council, according to the COA.

But Rama divided the amount at his discretion – some barangays getting more than others while a few, the ones identified with the Bando OsmeñaPundok Kauswagan (BOPK), weren’t given any aid at all.

Osmeña said they agreed with the COA that the city should appeal its decision.

But as to whether or not the aid will continue in the coming administration of her husband, Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña, she said, “It will depend on our financial status, which doesn’t look very good. And all processes have to be followed. If anything will be given at all, it will be a smaller amount.”

Barangay Incentives

During the exit conference, COA and the city officials also discussed the disallowance on the P31 million barangay incentives granted by the city government to barangay captains, barangay councilors, treasurers and secretaries for the entire year last year.

The COA earlier disallowed this because it was charged to the city’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures (MOOE) instead of Personal Services (PS).

“Under the executive order issued by the mayor (Rama), it should be (charged) under the Personal Services. But if we do that, we will exceed what (budget) we are allowed (under the PS). So we have to find a way to do it without violating again,” she said.

Lastly, Osmeña also raised the disallowances against some city hall officials who have since resigned or left city hall after the May 9 elections when Mayor Rama lost.

She was referring to former City Administrator Lucelle Mercado and Rama’s Secretary Belinda Navascues whose salaries and allowances in 2015 were disallowed by COA, after their appointments as co-terminus employees were disapproved by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Osmeña said the state auditors have their own remedies in going after the two officials.

“COA can do it. They have a process where they can do it, either before the Office of the Solicitor General or the Ombudsman,” she said.

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TAGS: Acting Mayor Margot Osmeña, allowance, barangays, Cebu, Cebu City, COA, Commission on Audit, disallowance, incentive

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