AT LEAST we didn't steal, said Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who also thanked state auditors for their annual audit report despite some negative feedbacks on how government funds were spent.
He assured the Commission on Audit that all questions raised will be answered.
"We thank them for their findings and for giving us the opportunity to explain. What is important is that there was no mention of corruption,” Rama told reporters yesterday.
In its report, the Commission on Audit ruled that the City violated some provisions of the law when it used the P203.7 million from the P300 million intended for the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) to pay the financial assistance of the seniors and person with disabilities (PWD), honorarium for consultants and barangay officials and staff, and the year-end cash gift of City Hall employees.
COA state auditor IV Cymbeline Uy said that by doing so, the City imperiled the CCMC construction, which Rama considered as urgent.
The old CCMC building was demolished after it was declared unsafe for occupancy following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013.
City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas placed the P300 million in time deposit under the CCMC-Construction account in the General Fund to secure the funding for the construction of the new hospital.
But last December, the amount was withdrawn from the Land Bank of the Philippines when it matured and part of it was used to pay the City's various cash assistance.
In her explanation to COA, Cuevas said that the money was used for other purposes since construction of the hospital had not started yet.
But Cuevas said that last January, the City replenished the fund in time for the collection of taxes.
"The explanation is, however, untenable. The amount of P300 million, although part of the funds in her custody, is not earmarked for the stated expenditures," the report read.
Section 337 of the Local Government Code provides that disbursements of any local fund in the custody of the treasurer can only be made if it is in accordance with the appropriations approved by the annual budget.
The P300 million was approved under Appropriation Ordinance 2300 and not from the annual budget.
In the same report, COA also questioned the demolition of the old CCMC building by JLC Corp. because it was undertaken without proper documentation.
Also, the scrap materials from the destroyed building were not accounted for properly.
The Department of Engineering and Public Works denied knowledge on how JLC Construction was hired.