Rama: SFI can’t accept P35M from Cebu City

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama. (SunStar file photo)

THE Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) cannot receive the P35 million budget allocated by the Office of the Mayor.

This was brought up by Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, during the City Council’s hearing on the proposed 2020 annual budget. The allocation for the SFI is part of the proposed budget.

Rama said the SFI has not been receiving monetary assistance from the Cebu City Government since 2009 following the ruling of the Commission on Audit (COA).

The COA had issued regulation on non-government office accepting public funds from a local government unit.

Councilor Raymond Garcia, City Council’s finance committee chairman, said that since 2009, the City has not been turning over checks representing financial aid to the SFI. The City directly pays for activities and items requested by the SFI.

In 2008, Rama said the SFI received its last direct cash assistance from the City. He stepped down as SFI chairman on Oct. 29, 2019 after leading it for 14 years.

He wondered why the Sinulog Governing Board (SGB) had to be formed when the SFI could not receive P35 million if the proposed budget is approved.

Rama said he “took offense” after reading in the newspapers that Labella formed the SGB to act as check and balance to the SFI.

“There is no such thing as check and balance because there is no balance to be checked,” Rama said.

In the past years, the SFI has been raising funds through sponsorships and solicitations, said Rama.

The City, though, has been helping the foundation annually with a certain amount, which covers the subsidies and prizes for the contingents.

Rama said there were times that the SFI funded the subsidies and prizes as the money from the City took time to be released. The SFI then would wait for the refund from the City.

“As long as I’m alive, I will defend the foundation,” Rama said.

Last Aug. 23, Labella issued an executive order creating the SGB “that will complement the functions of the SFI and that will focus on coordinating with the concerned agencies and entities to ensure the smooth implementation of the core activities, thus the SGB will organize the festival and its other activities. It will coordinate with the concerned agencies to oversee the peace and order situation.” (JJL, PAC)


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