Vehicle diverted to Rama allies?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


THE Cebu City Council wants the General Services Office (GSO) to review its policy on giving and assigning vehicles to the city’s 80 villages.

Some city officials have learned that Barangay Pahina San Nicolas did not receive what was due them.

In 2012, Councilor Gerardo Carillo said, the City Government approved an P80-million budget to buy vehicles for all the barangays, with each barangay getting P1 million.

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However, Carillo said, Pahina San Nicolas Barangay Captain Antonio Caruzca recently wrote him and asked that P1 million be set aside for the purchase of a Toyota Hi-Lux vehicle.

Caruzca said it will be used by the barangay for their peace and order program, and suggested that the funds be drawn from the City’s monthly share of the state gambling regulator’s earnings.

In a public hearing during the council’s regular session yesterday, Carillo asked GSO chief Engr. Dionisio Gualiza where Pahina’s vehicle is and if the P80 million has been used up.

Gualiza said the entire P80 million was used to purchase 39 Toyota Hi-Lux, 29 Mitsubishi Strada and 12 Toyota Innova units. What type of vehicle each barangay got depended on the preference of barangay officials.

Based on their records, Gualiza said, all the 80 vehicles have already been released but some were not directly given to the barangay captains.

Mayor’s call

“Some went to the barangay councilors, depending on the mayor. We only follow the prerogative and discretion of the mayor,” he said.

As proof that all vehicles have been released, Gualiza said they have copies of the acknowledgement receipts.

In previous interviews, Mayor Michael Rama had said that some vehicles were given to the barangay councilors instead of the barangay captains since they are not his allies. (Rama was on leave yesterday.)

He had said he would prefer to give the vehicles to people who have his trust and confidence.

As for the case of Pahina San Nicolas, Gualiza said the vehicle was given to Councilor John Paul Go. However, Carillo said that Go is no longer a barangay official.

“So where is the vehicle now?” he asked.

Go, who is an ally of Team Rama, ran for Pahina San Nicolas barangay captain in the October 2013 barangay elections but lost to Caruzca, who is an ally of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan.

Surprise

Gualiza said that the vehicle was turned over to Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos.

Upon learning about the matter, Carillo said that GSO may be held liable for the transfer because it can be considered as technical malversation of funds; it appeared the funds were not used for the purpose for which these were intended.

The 2012 budget ordinance, Carillo said, clearly provides that the P80-million budget for the vehicles will be for the barangays.

“You are courting trouble. You have deprived the constituents of Pahina San Nicolas of the utilization of the vehicle. Why give it to anyone else?” he said.

Councilor Delos Santos, for her part, expressed surprise, saying she did not know that the service vehicle she is using was supposed to be for Pahina San Nicolas.

“I’m willing to give it up if the mayor will take it from me. Maybe they can provide me another one,” said delos Santos, who is a former barangay captain from Lahug.

Review

As to the possibility of technical malversation, delos Santos said that the council cannot fault GSO for the transfer of the vehicle, adding they were just following orders from the mayor.

Councilor Alvin Arcilla, for his part, said that the vehicles given by the City to the barangays should have not been given to the barangay councilor in the first place.

Those who should have received it were the barangay captains or the barangay treasurers, who are considered bonded officers under the Local Government Code.

Councilor Sisinio Andales moved for GSO to revisit its policy on who should be given the vehicles in the barangays.

Acting Vice Mayor Nestor Archival Sr. also told the council to study the possibility of passing an ordinance that would mandate that the vehicles for the barangays should be given to the barangay captains.

The council also formed a committee of three yesterday to review all the vehicles given to the villages and who were the accountable officers. The committee is composed of Andales, Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr. and Councilor Dave Tumulak.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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