Welshing on Capitol debts

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


CEBU Gov. Junjun Davide says he won't pay P607 million due to about 30 contractors after the Capitol changed hands last June.

It's a decision that took more than six months to firm up: starting from his promise in October to pay in staggered sums, to the Provincial Board's decision a month ago to leave the issue to the governor, finally to his current stand that he won't allow the contracts to be ratified.

A lot of thinking must have gone to it as well as wrestling with temptation allegedly dangled by some creditors.

Davide says the projects, contracted without PB approval, were illegal.

But at the time, the then governor didn't think so. She believed that contracts covered by lump-sum appropriations no longer needed PB review.

Whether that opinion was shared by the PB or not, the board didn't assert its right. Which must have persuaded contractors to plunge into the project on her sole authority.

It's not known how many of the unpaid contracts were covered by Supreme Court guidelines on lump-sum appropriations. If the budget was specific enough, the SC says, the project covered by it didn't need PB scrutiny. Only general appropriations, such as "improvements," must require PB review of the contract.

Good faith

Davide, more stringent than the SC, believes that every contract must be approved by the board, a concession to transparency and joint responsibility.

These creditors might have been in good faith but that may not help, not when the payor, the new governor, now insists on conditions the governor then didn't require when she signed the contracts.

(paseares@sunstar.com.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 16, 2014.

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