CEBU CITY -- The City Government stands to forfeit some P15 million worth of calamity and life support equipment from Massachusetts, with the donor saying these might as well go to “interested” communities.
The Cebu City Council denied a request for the City to pay $56,000 or P2.46 million for the equipment’s freight and shipping.
The payment was supposed to be charged to the City’s share of revenues from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and authorized by a resolution proposed by Councilor Dave Tumulak. The City gets at least P4 million each month from Pagcor.
It was in February last year yet when Am-Phil Equipment and Logistics Llc. from Massachusetts in the United States donated and turned over 10 new inflatable boats with engines to the City, as well as three fiberglass speedboats, two used jet skis and two used ambulances.
These equipment have been in the custody of the Bantay Dagat Commission and the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC).
A committee report by the council’s committee on laws, headed by Councilor Sisinio Andales, recommended denying the request to pay for shipping the equipment, saying that the donation lacked documentation.
Andales said no copy of the deed of acceptance signed by Mayor Michael Rama has reached the council.
“This committee is wondering what are the contents of the deed of acceptance, which leaves a mystery among the members of this committee,” he added.
Aside from this, Andales said there was no official receipt submitted for the shipping of the equipment.
According to Andales, Evergreen Line submitted a bill of lading for the equipment last Oct. 30, 2013.
On Oct. 31, Am-Phil president Oliver Lagare made a $56,000 invoice for the equipment’s freight and handling.
“However, the invoice is not from the shipping lines. Thus, this committee deems it to be self-serving, without proper official receipt attached thereto,” the councilor said.
Last Feb. 13, Andales said that another shipping company, San Lorenzo Shipping Corp. from Davao City, issued an official receipt covering Lagare’s payment of P64,594 to ship the equipment from Davao to Cebu City.
Tumulak explained that it was only the two ambulances that were shipped directly from the USA to Cebu City.
The inflatable boats, fiberglass speedboats and jet skis, he said, were shipped from the USA to Davao City and then to Cebu City. The equipment was sent first to Davao since these need repainting by Lagare’s people there.
But the committee said there is “no factual and legal basis” to pay Lagare for shipping the equipment.
During the discussion, Councilor Hanz Abella asked if the equipment have already been used by the City.
Tumulak said these remained unused and were only in the custody of Bantay Dagat and CCDRRMC for safekeeping.
Councilor Gerardo Carillo expressed concern on the denial of the payment, saying that other entities might no longer want to donate to the City.
The council, though, approved the committee report.
The council also asked Bantay Dagat and CCDRRMC to give the council a report on the present status of the equipment and for the executive department to draft clear guidelines on the acceptance of foreign donations.
Asked about the council’s move, Tumulak lamented that the payment for the freight and shipping of the equipment was not approved.
“Sayang man gud (What a loss). It’s only P2 million compared to the cost of all the equipment, which is P15 million,” he said.
As for the donor, Lagare emailed Tumulak last Dec. 12 to get back all the equipment and donate these to other local government units (LGUs) affected by calamities.
“I think the City does not need the equipment. I am trying to do all my best but the council is not interested. So I will draft a formal letter addressed to the City officials informing them about my decision to rescind the donation,” he said.
Lagare said he has already received several requests from other LGUs that need the ambulance and rescue boats.
Mayor Michael Rama, for his part, said he won’t issue yet a comment on the matter. However, he said there is a need for the concerned parties to sit down and thresh out the problem.
The donation was made through the efforts of Charmaine Ong, a Cebuana who is in the US.