P1.08M from Osmena's PDAF ‘released for microfinancing’-A A +A
Sunday, October 6, 2013
SOME P1.08 million was released from the pork barrel of former Cebu City Congressman Tomas Osmeña for microfinance and other projects of several cooperatives, according to a government website.
The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in Central Visayas, however, cannot yet implement the projects with nine cooperatives, because of a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court on the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The Commission on Audit (COA) has questioned the use, from 2007 to 2009, of the PDAF by cooperatives. COA said that cooperatives are private institutions, so the money given to them “does not come within the purview of public purpose.”
Osmeña’s first term as congressman of the south district of Cebu was from 2010 to 2013; PDAF releases in these years have yet to be audited.
An official of the CDA confirmed that each of the nine cooperatives was supposed to receive P120,000 from Osmeña’s PDAF. The implementing agency is the Department of Finance.
Cooperative development specialist Rose Beniga said that the congressman had allocated P1.08 million from his PDAF as financial assistance to the Bacayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Cobcawa Multi-Purpose Cooperative Adlaon, Cambinocot Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Freedom Traders Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Freedom Park United Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Warwick Barracks Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Makabawi Women Consumers Cooperative, San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and the Son-oc Neighborhood Consumers Cooperative.
The funds were supposed to pay for microfinance projects, hog-raising, credit line portfolio, water refilling station feasibility study, dried fish project, and construction of a store.
Beniga, however, said what the CDA has is still a notice of cash allocation called the Special Allotment Release Order (Saro) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
She added that the CDA has not yet obligated the amount because of the court’s restraining order.
Second, the nine cooperative-beneficiaries have not yet submitted the requirements, she said.
Each is required to submit audited financial statements for the past three years and each of them should not have unliquidated grants or donations.
Beniga said that once the TRO is lifted and the coop-beneficiaries comply with the requirements, the CDA will request DBM and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to obligate the funds for the cooperative-beneficiaries, through CDA.
The DBM will then instruct LBP to release the funds to the cooperatives, and the CDA will monitor the implementation of the projects.
“So far, we have no request yet,” Beniga said.
CDA Regional Director Felipe Deri said that all of the nine cooperatives are of good standing, according to their records, and are qualified to receive the PDAF.
Based on the DBM website, the cash intended for the Cambinocot Multipurpose Cooperative, Freedom Park United Vendors, Warwick Barracks Vendors, and San Nicolas de Tolentino was supposed to be used for microfinancing.
Microfinance programs are intended to give banking services, like loans, to sectors of the community that typically do not qualify for loans in commercial banks.
In an interview, Osmeña said he decided to give some funds to the cooperatives in the city so that they can continue to operate.
“I just want to help. They need money,” Osmeña said.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, though, already requires thrift banks and rural banks to set aside a portion of their loanable amounts for microfinancing.
Asked if he personally knows the cooperatives, Osmeña said these were identified by former Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young.
Some of the intended beneficiaries lamented they have not yet received the P120,000 until now.
Celsa Santisas, manager of the Freedom Park United Vendors Cooperative, told Sun.Star Cebu that the cash aid was supposed to have been released to them before the May 13 elections yet.
“Ambot, hangtod ron wa pa man gihapon (We don’t know why the funds haven’t been released yet),” she said.
Santisas said they were supposed to use the fund to lend money to their estimated 175 members.
Before the May polls, Santisas said a cardboard check symbolizing the actual check was turned over to them and the other coop-beneficiaries by Osmeña and Young; however, she said they have not received the actual money until now. This, too, was the predicament of the Freedom Traders Multipurpose Cooperative.
The group’s head, Manuel Carmelo, said he didn’t understand why the fund has not yet been released. He said they already submitted all the requirements, such as the proposal on how they will use the money and the certificate that they are recognized by the CDA.
Unlike the Freedom Park United Vendors Cooperative, Carmelo said they are planning to use the money to set up a water refilling station so their cooperative can generate income.
Carmelo’s group is composed of 265 members.
Despite a five-month delay, both Santisas and Carmelo are hoping that their funds will still be released, adding that they will make a follow-up on the matter. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 07, 2013.