Editorial: Fuss over medals purchase-A A +A
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
IT'S not surprising that the purchase by the Provincial Government of the so-called “governor’s medals” would spark a controversy now that Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale is at the helm of the Capitol. The medals were ordered by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia before her suspension in December.
Transactions done by Garcia are Magpale’s pet peeve. They are examined with a fine-toothed comb for irregularities and every firm that collects payment for them goes through the wringer, sort of.
For the medals, at least three points can be mined: the purchase cost, usage/wastage and its propriety. Tackling these, however, requires the gathering of details of the transaction, and not only based on one side’s say-so. We are, after all, in a political season.
The medals were described as expensive, with the stress on the bulk price of P520,000 (or the more sensational P.5 million). But 2,600 medals were purchased, which means each medal cost P200. Now, that figure can already be compared to the price of other
medals in the market.
Does that price deserve the “expensive” rant? Of course, it is wrong for Garcia to compare that price with those of imported medals. The comparison should be on the price of medals of similar make.
Because of Garcia’s suspension, the purchase of the medals got overlooked until the supplier sought payment. And considering Magpale’s usual reluctance to pay for any transaction entered into by Garcia, the medals will probably be ready for distribution
only next month or even later, when students are already on vacation.
And because the medals were embossed with the “3-D” image of Garcia, chances are Magpale won’t even distribute the medals at all. That’s where wastage comes, when the medals are good as thrown away.
The sculpting of Garcia’s image on the medals can qualify as “epal” (government officials promoting themselves through projects paid for by public funds). And Garcia’s claim that the engraving was done per the children’s request may not wash because she could just have refused to accede to it. Capitol’s logo would have sufficed.
But while there is an aggressive drive against “epals,” the anti-epal bills filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives failed to go fully through the legislative mill.
Meanwhile, a lawyer from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Aiza Fiel Nogra, admitted that a memo against “epals” issued by the department a couple of years before only had the strength of an advisory, considering that it did not specify sanctions.
She ended up passing the burden of considering whether the purchase of the medals is irregular or not to the Commission on Audit.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 21, 2013.