Are Pagcor funds being abused?-A A +A
Sunday, July 8, 2012
CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama blew his top over allegations of Councilor Sisinio “Bebs” Andales, a stalwart of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), that Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) funds are being misused. I saw Mike’s television footage over the weekend where he raised his voice and challenged Andales to prove his allegations. “Miulbo gyud ang kaspa ni Mike,” as they say in Cebuano.
Andales made these remarks during a discussion with his peers in the City Council after the city accountant rendered reports on the use of Pagcor funds. He ordered the city accountant to render another report within 15 days on the disbursement of funds by the chief executive.
He said he heard reports that the mayor is using the funds left and right at the Rama compound. Reading between the lines, it seems Andales was insinuating that Mike uses the funds indiscriminately and not within the guidelines for the usage of the funds.
But why did Andales say “at the Rama compound?” Was he insinuating that Mike distributed funds to his supporters at the Rama compound? Or did he mean Mike was using the funds to feed his supporters who frequent his residence? Or was he saying that Mike used the money to make some improvements on his house?
In a text message, Andales clarified that he was not insinuating anything. He just wanted to be enlightened on the alleged indiscriminate disbursement of funds. He said they are alarmed by the number of budgetary resolutions by the mayor’s allies, which are charged against Pagcor funds. He said he just wants to protect the taxpayers’ money, adding that he’s taking on the role of “check and balance.”
Well, the ugly face of politics has taken a back seat at City Hall. Mike and Bebs’ friendship might be destroyed because of this issue, as they belong to opposing camps.
The City Government receives P4 million monthly from Pagcor. This started way back during the first term of former mayor Tomas Osmeña in the late `80s. Tomas had demanded that Pagcor pay local tax. Pagcor officials refused, claiming the agency already paid tax to the National Government. Tomas threatened to close Pagcor’s gambling casino, which was then located at Nivel Hills. During a Charter Day celebration, Tomas awarded Pagcor and Philippines Airlines the Kalabasa Award. Tomas’s move prompted Pagcor to give P3 million to the City Government as monthly financial assistance.
The executive and legislative departments have been using Pagcor funds as sort of a milking cow. Almost all budgetary resolutions (as long as the amount is not too big) from the office of the mayor and the councilors are charged against Pagcor funds like the purchase of vehicles, office supplies, aid to barangays and police matters. That’s how it was when everyone still belonged to one party, the BOPK.
But now that they are divided, the council, which is still dominated by BOPK stalwarts, has gotten strict in the disbursement of funds. They want all budgetary resolutions, especially from the office of the mayor and his allies at the council, to go through the committee on budget and finance chaired by Councilor Margot Osmeña.
This will make the lives of Mike and his allies miserable. Meaning, they can no longer enjoy the funds. Margot’s committee, for sure, will move heaven and earth not to approve any request from Mike’s camp.
In fact, the first casualty was the resolution of Councilor Joey Daluz III, appropriating P1.2 million for the purchase of a vehicle to be used by members of the Mining and Regulatory Board. Well, expect more fanfare on this issue in the days to come.
Is it true that Cebu City Police Office Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe is asking his superiors at the PNP Regional Office 7 to relieve him for two reasons? One, because of his promotion. And two, because of political pressure.
For a ranking senior police officer to be promoted to chief superintendent, he should lobby to be assigned at the National Capital Region or at Camp Crame.
But sources said Buenafe wants to get out of Cebu City because he found himself caught in the political crossfire between Mayor Rama and Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district). While Rama is his immediate “commander,” Tomas reportedly still issues him instructions he cannot refuse.
In an interview with radio dySS reporter Guam Logronio, Buenafe denied wanting to be relieved. Hang in there, Sir. Hanggat kaya pa. We need you.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 09, 2012.