Saturday, August 17, 2019

Mayor on Caluag’s claims about RPT irregularities: ‘She has no right’

PAMPANGA. City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago tells veteran journalists that his challenger Ex-Officio Councilor Vilma Caluag has “no right” to claim that there are irregularities in RPT shares distribution during the Capampangan in Media, Inc.’s forum at Bale Balita in Clark on Friday. (Chris Navarro)

CITY of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago said that his rival in the May 2019 mayoralty race, Association of Barangay Captains president and Ex-Officio Councilor Vilma Caluag has no right to say that there are irregularities in the distribution of Real Property Tax (RPT) shares to barangays in the city.

Santiago issued the statement during the weekly forum of the Capampangan in Media Incorporated (CAMI) at the Bale Balita in Clark Freeport Friday, February 22.

The incumbent city mayor told the veteran newsmen that there are government agencies that evaluate and confirm irregularities in the affairs of a certain local government unit.

Santiago said that Caluag should be careful in issuing statements that will affect the entire local government and the integrity of the city's leadership including her as a member of the city council.

“If she feels that that there are irregularities in connection with the local governance, Caluag can always use the authority of the city council to investigate in aid of legislation,” according to him.

“The city council is the most powerful office in a local government unit and not the mayor. I cannot do my job without the approval of the city council. With the mere slashing of my budget I cannot do anything,” the mayor said.

The Commission on Audit (COA), which is based inside the city hall, may recommend to the Office of the Ombudsman the filing of a case against city officials if it finds irregularities in the transactions of a local government unit, according to Santiago.

“Not even the president of the Philippine controls COA,” the local chief executive said.

The COA states that the city government will not pass the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) ratings if there are irregularities, Santiago added.

“Only a single disallowance and we will already fail in the SGLG. The city has zero disallowance, every year we are passing the SGLG,” he said.

Santiago said not even COA can say that there is a case of irregularity in local governance. “Only the Ombudsman can confirm that there is a case.”

Upon hearing Calaug's allegations, the reelectionist mayor said he immediately requested for a special audit on the city's RPT distribution.

Santiago also mentioned the Department of Interior and Local Government as the third agency is mandated to investigate local government units with irregular transactions.

“She has no right and she is serving as a public official of the city,” he added.


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