‘Barrio Fund’ transfers questioned

‘Barrio Fund’ transfers questioned
SunStar Local News GPX

A LOCAL legislator has raised concerns over the “Barrio Fund” which was transferred to the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Cebu City without transparency on fund utilization.

During the regular session on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, the council’s majority floor leader, said her concern stemmed from Memorandum Circular 2923-010 issued by the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (LnB) national office dated Dec. 14, 2023, which requires punong barangays who would run for positions in the Liga ng mga Barangay, to have paid their annual dues as of Aug. 31, 2023, which served as a “prerequisite for participation in the chapter election.”

Pesquera highlighted that some barangay captains had been disqualified from running for any ABC position due to unresolved dues owed to the organization.

She requested the LnB national office to provide the City Council with a copy of the organization’s bylaws regarding the annual dues which the barangays are made to pay.

She said such a requirement is a bit “baffling” because the terms of those who would be running for a particular office had not yet started, saying payments should not be made prior to the start of the term.

Pesquera said the barrio fund is the collective fund of all the 80 barangays of Cebu City, which is allocated to support the ABC, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation, and the Liga ng mga Barangay Kagawad ng Pilipinas (LBKP).

According to Pesquera, 90 percent of the barrio fund goes to the ABC, five percent to the LBKP, and another five percent to the SK.

She said the City Council has no authority to transfer the barrio funds to the ABC, saying she opposed the idea during one of their sessions.

“Only the barangay councils have the authority to authorize the transfer of their share of that barrio fund to the ABC,” Pesquera said.

She said for 47 of the city’s 80 barangays alone, a share of P12 million already goes to the ABC which serves as annual dues. She said Barangay Guadalupe has the biggest contribution at P1 million, while Barangay Lahug’s contribution is P700,000.

She said the annual dues that each barangay has to pay should not be the kind of amounts that Barangays Guadalupe and Lahug have been paying to the ABC as annual dues, but should only be a certain amount which she did not specify.

“I would just want to really make the public know and make the ABC board of directors answer all the questions... where these particular funds would go and what’s the basis for their collection, their non-payment of which has been considered as a reason why some of our barangay officials were not able to run for an elective position, worse, not allowed to vote,” Pesquera said.

What for?

On Wednesday, City Councilor Phillip Zafra, chairman of the committee on peace and order, said it has been the practice of the LnB or ABC for Cebu City to allocate funds, saying that it represented the proportionate share of about 1.32 percent of the annual budget

per barangay.

Zafra said the amount is used for the payment for the ABC’s hired accountants and engineers who are tasked to assist the barangays as well as to fund various projects and programs of the ABC.

Pesquera asked the ABC Cebu City to furnish the City Council with a copy of the law, ordinance, or barangay circular permitting the payment of annual dues to the LnB.

Lastly, she requested the basis for computing the dues for each barangay and documentation demonstrating the fund transfer from ABC to the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation and BCLP (Barangay Councilors League of the Philippines).

Meanwhile, City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, chairman of the committee on transportation, requested, in a corollary motion, Councilor Franklyn Ong, ABC president, to submit, in writing, details on the programs and projects where the collected amount by ABC is being utilized.

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