Capitol: Give P27M in ‘pork’-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
THE Cebu Provincial Capitol is asking for the transfer of some P27 million in congressional funds from the social welfare department to the Province, which plans to spend it on social services.
The Provincial Government requested Senator Teofisto Guingona III to request the transfer from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Two Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) show that the funds were intended to support the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) project.
The SAROs were issued in December 2012 and March 2013, months before the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the use of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF). They were for a total of P29 million, of which P2 million has reportedly been used so far.
Meanwhile, a network of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) operating in Cebu will field their members to government offices down to the barangay level to spot corruption in any form.
This is Kaabag sa Sugbo Foundation Inc.’s response to the graft-ridden transactions of bogus NGOs with some government agencies and officials, which they said is unfair to legitimate NGOs like them.
“There was just too much complacency. Now we realize that we have to participate. We decided that we will find a way to monitor corruption in government so we are asking our members to engage these government offices,” said Tessie Fernandez, executive director of Lihok Pilipina Foundation Inc.
But as they condemned corruption, particularly the irregular use of the PDAF channeled through the fake NGOs, like those of Janet Lim-Napoles, they admitted that they, too, played a part.
“Shamefully, we admit that we are equally guilty of the graft and corrupt practices that have become systemic in our society. We have been silent or looked the other way, if not cooperated when we benefitted from this,” said Rosebell Balang of Kaabag sa Sugbo.
Kaabag sa Sugbo is a network of 30 social development NGOs in Cebu.
Last Sept. 10, the Supreme Court restrained the use of the PDAF, amid allegations that billions of it went to ghost projects of fake NGOs.
DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman then issued a memorandum regarding the “presidential directive to suspend all PDAF-related projects.”
But the Province’s request regarding Senator Guingona’s PDAF refers to releases that were authorized long before allegations about the scam turned up.
Lawyer Ramil Abing, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III’s chief of staff, said that only P2 million was used so far to provide rice to indigent constituents, specifically in Danao City, before the recent elections.
But the SAROs were supposed to be for P20 million and P9 million, and meant for the Kalahi-CIDSS.
In a letter, lawyer Dante Atienza, Guingona’s chief of staff, informed DSWD 7 Director Mercedita Jabagat that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued a SARO last March 22 for P9 million. This was supposed to be for DSWD projects in Cebu Province.
A previous SARO dated Dec. 20, 2012, worth P20 million, was also released “for the needs of indigent Cebuanos.”
Atienza’s letter was dated Sept. 17.
The letter stated that P1 million was given to the municipality of Cordova, after the town was affected by an oil spill following a ship’s sinking last August.
Abing said the Capitol will verify if the amount given to Cordova comes from the funds allocated for the Kalahi-CIDSS project in the Province.
Last Sept. 6, Davide wrote Guingona to ask if the amount intended for the Province can be transferred from the DSWD.
“In response to said request and considering the extent of the administrative organization of the Provincial Government of Cebu that can effectively reach even the remotest barangays, we decided to transfer the remaining balance of the funds thereto,” a part of the letter from Guingona’s office read.
Secretary Soliman pointed out that “PDAF for calendar year 2013 is suspended indefinitely.”
“However, PDAF-related SAROs and NCA (Notice of Cash Allocation) for CY 2012 that had already been released for implementation by government agencies themselves in accordance with pertinent guidelines may be continued,” a part of the memorandum read.
On Monday, the Cebu Provincial Board approved a resolution for an agreement on the transfer of P9 million from DSWD to the Province.
Abing said they are still drafting the memorandum of agreement for the funds left out of the P20 million.
Meanwhile, Fernandez of Kaabag sa Sugbo pledged to police their own ranks and help prevent corruption in government.
“In one way or another, we are also guilty of corruption when we ask government offices to prioritize our transactions… anything for our convenience… Like name-dropping, it’s still corruption in the most common form. We have to take a look at our own actions and examine ourselves,” she said during a press conference Tuesday.
In implementing the people’s efficiency and transparency campaign, Fernandez said they will use Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, to gauge the performance of government offices and officials.
This is not the first time that Kaabag sa Sugbo is campaigning against corruption.
The campaign was implemented before but it was stopped due to the lack of funds for the logistics of volunteers who go out in the field. This time, the NGOs will include their members in the barangays in monitoring government offices.
In their monitoring in the previous years, Fernandez said they came across several irregular government projects.
“The roads were substandard while some agriculture-related projects and purchases could not be found,” she recalled.
In the same press conference, the local NGOs called for the prosecution of all those involved in the P10-billion PDAF scam and other anomalies involving the people’s money.
They said it is unfair to legitimate NGOs that the credibility of NGOs has been tainted because of the scam.
“I cannot understand why these fake NGOs were able to operate and get P10 billion from government while legitimate NGOs like us have to make do with P1 million or P2 million at the most to fund our projects for the poor. How can they do that? Kami maglakaw sa init para makaserbisyo sa katawhan… usahay manglangoy pa (We have had to walk and endure the mid-day heat to serve the people. Sometimes, we’ve even had to swim),” Fernandez added. (FMG/LCR/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 25, 2013.