STATE auditors told the Municipal Governments of Asturias and Tuburan to return unspent pork barrel funds they received from national legislators.
In a recently released audit report for 2014, the Commission on Audit (COA) said that Asturias had P5.56 million in unused funds from pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as of Nov. 30, 2014.
Tuburan had P2.35 million in unspent PDAF money as of Dec. 30, 2014.
Asturias Mayor Allan Adlawan said that the Municipal Government already gave the funds back to the National Government.
Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante said the town is complying with COA's recommendation, but that Municipal Treasurer Judith Jumao-as is in a better position to discuss the status of their compliance.
She could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In its report, COA said the funds should be given back to the National Government because the Supreme Court (SC) has declared PDAF as unconstitutional.
With the SC decision, it is unlawful for recipients to spend pork barrel funds, state auditors said.
"We recommend that the unspent PDAF funds be returned to the National Treasury so that it can be used for other priority projects of the government," the report reads.
In Asturias, unused PDAF allocations came from former congressman Pablo John Garcia and Sen. Serge Osmeña III. Garcia gave P5.07 million while P500,000 was released through Osmeña.
State auditors also told Asturias to return the balance of P14,251 from completed projects funded through the PDAF.
Adlawan said that the Municipal Accountant gave back the funds to the Bureau of Treasury about two weeks ago.
"We didn't know how to return the funds so we waited for an advice from COA," Adlawan told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.
In Tuburan, unused pork barrel funds came from several national legislators.
Among the lawmakers with major PDAF allocations to the town were Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, who alloted P521,452 for "priority development projects," and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., who gave P500,000 for the construction of a multi-purpose building.
Other legislators who set aside part of their PDAF for the town included former congressman Garcia and Senators Miguel Zubiri, Teofisto Guingona and Manny Villar.
The report noted that Tuburan, in an exit conference, asked that it be allowed to continue the projects funded through PDAF and realign balances from completed projects to other projects.
In its report, COA also took notice of the direct contracting scheme done by Tuburan in hiring a choreographer and buying costumes for the town's contingent to the Sinulog Festival 2014.
According to COA, the municipal government should have conducted a public bidding.
It noted that the town spent P220,000 on the choreographer and P512,000 on costumes and accessories. Both expenses were made through direct contracting.
Diamante said that the Municipal Government already sent COA a letter justifying its action.
State auditors also noted the failure of the two local government units to make an inventory report of its equipment and other properties.
COA told Asturias to conduct an inventory of P142 million worth of properties.
It also told Tuburan officials to make an inventory report for P64.7 worth of properties.
Adlawan said they already conducted an inventory. As for Tuburan, the report noted that an inventory of properties was ongoing.