TALISAY City Mayor Johnny V. de los Reyes (JVR) has directed former mayors Eduardo Gullas and Socrates Fernandez and other city officials to return P29.361 million to the City, as ordered by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The amount was used for the Talisay City College’s computerization project and for the purchase of allegedly overpriced liquid fertilizer when Gullas was the city mayor, according to the order of execution signed by COA assistant commissioner and general counsel Isabel Agito.

But Gullas and Fernandez, in separate statements, said JVR was not updated of the case, as this has been elevated to the Supreme Court.

If the persons named in the order are no longer in government service, COA has directed the mayor’s office to collect or settle the amount directly from them, JVR wrote Gullas and former city attorney and administrator Autora Econg.

JVR also wrote City Treasurer Emma Macuto and City Accountant Viluzminda Villarante that COA has mandated him to withhold the payment of salaries or any amount due to the persons liable for the settlement of their liabilities.


He identified the other officials involved as Econg, city budget officer Edgar Mabunay, city engineer Aude Bacasmas, city treasurer Emma Macuto, Architect Ariel Araw-araw, city agriculturist Rene Galado, Vicente Gamaliel, Rey Lumapas, Melani Labador and the owners of Gracias Industries. 

Several notices of disallowance with varying amounts were sent to the officials and employees in the past. The first one was sent on April 23, 2007 and another on July 23, 2007.

A notice of finality of its decision was released by COA on Aug 5, 2015. Nine days later, COA issued the order of execution.

JVR wrote Gullas, Econg and other city officials last Monday, February 15.

Not updated

But Gullas and Fernandez questioned JVR’s order directing them and other city officials to settle their obligations.

In a statement sent to Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Gullas said the case filed against them by COA has been elevated to the Supreme Court and is still under deliberation.

Gullas said he was unaware of the COA’s findings, which became the basis for the disallowance of the amount paid for the City’s computerization project and overpriced liquid fertilizer.

He said JVR was not thoroughly informed of the details of the case before he wrote the letter to the concerned officials.

“Let us just forgive Mayor de los Reyes for writing this letter, assuming that he knew what it contained. It is not easy to do things we are incompetent of. Let us, however, pray that the mayor be enlightened and that his lawyer should advise him that the Supreme Court has taken jurisdiction over this case,” Gullas said.


In a phone interview, Fernandez told Sun.Star Cebu that JVR was just being “clumsy and awkward” for issuing an order without looking at the facts of the case.

Fernandez said JVR is using the issue to support his reelection campaign. Both Gullas and Fernandez are partymates under the First District’s Alayon Party while JVR is allied with the Liberal Party.

Gullas and Fernandez said they plan to secure a temporary restraining order to stop JVR from collecting the amount from the city officials involved in the case.

COA’s issue

COA had questioned the computerization project, which cost the City P26.988 million because of the unauthorized use of the 20 percent development fund. 

When Gullas was mayor, he issued an executive order pooling all annual budget savings from different city departments to pay for the computerization project, which was illegal because it was not approved by the City Council. 

As for the overpriced liquid fertilizer, the COA reportedly found out that a bottle of liquid fertilizer only costs P77 but the City, during the time of Gullas and Fernandez, bought it at P900 per bottle. 

As a result, the liquid fertilizer was overpriced by P2.999 million for the 3,333 bottles that the officials ordered.