Disclose municipal fund disbursements, mayor urged

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Monday, August 11, 2014


PORAC -- Ex-Officio Board Member and Porac Councilor Mike Tapang called Monday on and "challenged" Mayor Condralito Dela Cruz to implement a "full disclosure policy" concerning the municipal programs, projects and disbursement of public funds here lamenting on the lack of detailed reports and citations of violations from the Commission on Audit (COA).

Tapang was almost not able to deliver his speech before the start of the session when Councilor Mark Valencia moved to dispense with the preliminary session proceedings in favor of a pending hearing related to the Hacienda Dolores land dispute, a motion that was seconded by Councilor Rey Lapid which later led to the nominal voting in favor of Tapang's privilege speech.

Tapang, who rose on virtue of executive privilege, said that he is worried over questions from Porac residents and issues being raised on social networking sites on where the funds of the Municipal Government are spent. Tapang showed clippings of statements from Facebook users, one of which was the allegation that P1 million was being given to village captains without the knowledge of the council.

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"It is a shameful thing to say, but we can only give limited answers to our constituents because we do not have details on the budget allocations approved on the municipal budget," Tapang said in the vernacular.

He furthered that the council only has a list of general titles of appropriations from the 2014 non-office budget under the executive department such as the 20 percent local development fund amounting to P33.2 million, donations and grants amounting to P13 million, calamity fund – P11.5 million, maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) – P10.9 million and “so on and so forth.”

"I recently found out that COA cited several violations and irregularities on the disbursement and use of our 2011 and 2012 budgets," Tapang added.

Tapang said that the COA has recommended that the municipality fix their usage of the 20 percent development fund. Tapang added that the COA found out that the municipality was paying for the salaries of teachers in 2011 which it said were "non-existent". Tapang also said that there was P49 million worth of equipment which COA said was unverifiable due to lack of physical count.

In line with this, Tapang also pushed for the approval of a resolution calling the Chief Executive to implement a full public disclosure policy concerning the municipal programs and projects and disbursement of public funds, in accordance with the existing national laws and local ordinances.

"All I am asking is for us to lead this municipality with utmost dedication and honesty. Let us uphold a culture of integrity and accountability in Porac," Tapang said.

Councilor Regin Clarete also lamented the lack of available documents on disbursements of municipal programs and projects. He called for more transparency and the involvement of local leaders in the committees concerning local finances.

In defense of Dela Cruz

Councilor Mark Valencia thanked Tapang for his move to push for full disclosure but Valencia was quick to say that he believes that mayor "will not steal" from the municipal funds of Porac. He said that there is enough check and balance in the preparation of the town's finances adding that documents area always available for members of the council.

Valencia also cautioned that the council should only assume its role as a "legislative body" and not try to "wear the shoes of the legislative.”

"Before we try to help the executive, let us first ask ourselves if we are performing well. We may be looking at the dirt in the faces of others not knowing that our own faces are even dirtier," Valencia said, adding that transparency should also extend to members of the Sangguniang Bayan.

No P1 million for village officials

Meanwhile, Vice-Mayor Dexter David said that there is no P1 million fund given to barangay officials. He added that the funding allocation is done through the Annual Investment Program and Local Development Councils who create multisectoral development plans that are approved by the Sanggunian.

"As for the municipality's performance, the municipality under the leadership of Mayor Dela Cruz was awarded three times with the Seal of Good Housekeeping," David said. He said that the municipality was also awarded P1 million as Performance Challenge Fund in recognition of its exemplary performance in governance, transparency and accountability in 2011. David said that this was also true in 2011.

David added that the SGH award recognizes local government units (LGUs) with good performance in internal housekeeping, especially on sound fiscal management, transparency, accountability, and performance management while the PCF is an incentive fund to LGUs in the form of counterpart funding to high-impact capital investment projects in the Annual Investment Program and funded the 20 percent Development Fund consistent with national priorities.

"The town's performance speaks well for itself," David said.

David also questioned Tapang on the liquidation of the P30,000 fund used in a recent seminar in Iloilo, which David alleged that no receipt has yet to be given.

Tapang, for his part, said that the councilors even paid for their own respective airfare adding that the issue should be brought up in a proper forum and that if the vice mayor finds anything irregular proper charges should be filed.

Sun.Star Pampanga has yet to reach Dela Cruz for his comments on the "challenge" of Tapang.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 12, 2014.

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