Manila City Hall denies being bankruptBy Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Manila City Hall officials denied reports that the local government was bankrupt and that it failed to remit taxes and employee contributions to PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig and the Government Service Insurance System.
City treasurer Marissa de Guzman said she had written to the Commission on Audit (COA) seeking a clarification about a recent audit report that made such findings as quoted in the media.
In a statement on Thursday, she expressed surprise at the report and insisted that the city “was clearly updated in its payments … up to August 2012.”
City accountant Ma. Lourdes Manlulu also said the city had never been delayed or remiss in remitting the taxes withheld for the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other contributions deducted from employees’ salaries.
However, a legal staff member of a minority councilor, who asked not to be named, told the Inquirer that she and her colleague discovered that their PhilHealth payments were not updated when her coworker’s child got sick and the PhilHealth card was rejected.
She said they had to go to the PhilHealth office to make voluntary contributions.
Ricardo de Guzman, chief of staff of Mayor Alfredo Lim, doubted the news report quoting the COA, calling it a smear campaign.
“Clearly, there is politics behind this. (The news report) said it is quoting the COA website but if you try and open the website, it is ‘broken’ or unavailable,” De Guzman said in the statement.
The Inquirer checked the COA website and after several tries managed to open and download the 2011 annual report on the Manila city government.
Item No. 18 under Significant Findings and Recommendations of the audit report says: “The funds withheld for the BIR, GSIS, Pag-Ibig and Philhealth in the amounts of P237.826 million, P97.664 million, P0.172 million and P20.794 million, respectively, were not remitted on time.”
Item No. 12 states that the city’s available cash of P1.006 billion is insufficient to cover its liabilities, including the remittances, amounting to P3.553 billion.