Lim turns up the heat on Isko MorenoBy Erika Sauler |Philippine Daily Inquirer
The bickering continues.
This time, reelectionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim accused his vice mayor, Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, of buying P7.3-million worth of rice last year in a transaction he said had been questioned by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Domagoso is the running mate of Joseph Estrada, Lim’s rival in the mayoral election, with whom the mayor has a running word war.
Lim said in a media forum on Monday that the COA had issued a memorandum asking why the procurement of 5,616 sacks of rice was paid as a cash advance instead of a check and why it was bought through a negotiated procurement instead of a competitive bidding procedure.
The COA also noted that “signatures in the list of beneficiaries have similar strokes as if signed by the same persons.” The addresses of the suppliers and the recipients of rice were also not indicated on the list.
A copy of the COA Notice of Suspension dated Oct. 9, 2012, showed that several officials, including Lim, were required to submit an explanation and supporting documents about the sale.
The officials were identified as Domagoso; Gerald Garra, special disbursing officer; Maria Lourdes Manlulu, city accountant; Marisa de Guzman of the City Treasurer’s Office; Rafaelito Garayblas, secretary to the mayor; Luch Gempis Jr., secretary to the council; Marijun Felipe, local legislative staff III; and Lim.
Moreno’s participation in the transaction showed that he certified the cash advances as necessary and legal and were incurred under his direct supervision and approved Program of Expenditures.
Garayblas said his and Lim’s signatures approving the cash advances and disbursement vouchers were made as a matter of standard operating procedure.
“That’s their trust fund. If we didn’t approve it, we would be accused of withholding their money,” Garayblas said.
“I think what caught the COA’s attention was there was only a single official receipt for each transaction, when the purchase involved 24 councilors,” Manlulu said.
The rice was bought on Jan. 19, 2012, for P3.74 million and on March 9, 2012, for P3.56 million.
Manlulu added that when the City Council requested the cash advance, the purpose stated was “for various programs and projects for the general welfare of the constituents.”
Gempis said he was “not fully aware of the particulars on this issue, but the vice mayor had already answered and had submitted the deficient documents required by COA.”