Where’s check and balance?-A A +A
Sunday, August 19, 2012
THE Commission on Audit (COA) should pursue its inquiry on the procedures in the release of funds by Gov. Gwen Garcia that did not pass through the Provincial Board.
The COA has issued a memorandum to PB Secretary Anecita Pasaylo asking for an explanation on the release of funds, like financial aid, to calamity-stricken areas if this passed through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Upon receiving the memorandum, Pasaylo sought the advice of Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale. The vice governor advised Pasaylo “to just tell the truth.” And the truth is that these financial aid to other provinces hit by calamities were not deliberated upon by the PB.
But COA should not only focus on the financial aid, but also on other questionable expenses of the governor, like her media advertisements, the catering services for her visitors in several Capitol affairs and the recent filing of the case on the controversial Balili property. COA and the public should not just swallow hook, line and sinker the version of the governor and her “genius lawyers” on this matter. The governor’s contention is that there is already a lump sum appropriation for these purposes and that there is no need for the governor to ask for an authority from the PB because, under a budgetary ordinance, the chief executive has the power to appropriate funds intended for a specific purpose from the general lump sum appropriation.
Gwen even cautioned Magpale not just to open her mouth about the process without first studying the law that covers on the matter. She claimed that state auditors have supported her stand on this. Is that so? Then if COA is supporting her stand, why in the first place did it send a memorandum to Pasaylo ordering her to explain the circumstances behind the release of these funds?
On the financial aid, if I recall correctly, the Provincial Board then headed by the late Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez passed a resolution appropriating P10 million for typhoon Ondoy’s victims in Metro Manila. But during the turnover of the check to then defense secretary Gibo Teodoro, who was also the chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), Gwen turned over a P20-million check. Greg and other PB members who were present were shocked. But Gwen just told them to pass another resolution covering the additional P10 million she handed to Teodoro.
Now, why was that particular appropriation taken up by the PB? Meaning, at that time, Gwen acknowledged the authority of the PB that any appropriation should pass through the legislative body. But why won’t she recognize that authority now?
Is there a recent ruling on this?
The same thing with Gwen’s media advertisements. We can see Gwen’s face in newspapers, advertising her Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbo, her airsoft and horseback-riding competitions.
Her greetings to known personalities like during the anniversary of the Iglesia ni Cristo and her ongoing radio and TV ads promoting Cebu and herself. PB Member John Peter Calderon, the governor’s ally, said there is already a lump sum appropriation for advertising, and the governor does not need an authority for this. But what about the authority of the governor to enter into contract with the media outlets where she placed her advertisements?
On the filling of the Balili property. Gwen and her lawyers said that they got the P27 million from the site development and annual investment funds and, again, there is no need for the governor to ask for an authority from the PB. But what about entering into contracts with the contractors that supplied the filling materials? Who chooses these contractors and who sets the contract price of the filling materials? It is Gwen who is calling all the shots here? This is a very dangerous precedent. Where is check-and-balance here?
Now that there is already opposition in the PB, I think they should assert their right and demand that all the procedures in releasing funds in the Office of the Governor should pass through them. Makaluluoy ang mga magbubuhis sa Sugbo.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 20, 2012.