Politics, Bulacan exec says of COA audit report

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CITY OF MALOLOS—Bulacan officials defended the hiring of consultants for the provincial government, saying the Commission on Audit (COA) has not called their attention on any irregularity and never stopped the disbursement of funds for the consultants.

Vicente Cruz, a provincial government consultant on political affairs, described reports on Bulacan’s hiring of 72 consultants, which the COA said was “unnecessary,” as a “political attack” on Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado.

“That’s politics,” Cruz said.

In a statement posted on the Radyo Veritas website, the diocese of Malolos, Bulacan, also denied that bishops and priests were among those getting paid by the Bulacan provincial government as consultants.

“Confirmation has been made that the bishops and priests who receive monthly honoraria from the provincial capitol do not belong to the Catholic Church,” said Rev. Fr. Dars Cabral, chair of the Commission on Social Communications of the diocese. “They are bishops and priests who lead different sects within the province of Bulacan,” he added.

In a statement in the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said none of the priests under him are employed at the provincial government.

In a 2012 audit, the COA said the hiring of contractual employees increased by 79 percent to 1,608 people last year from 900 in 2009. In the same period, contractual salaries jumped 226 percent to P196.3 million from P73.8 million in 2009.

Cruz defended the hiring of high school graduates and college undergraduates as consultants, saying they are experts in farming, fishing and other blue-collar jobs.

Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando said he hired 20 consultants for the provincial board because they represented all sectors in the province. “Two heads are better than one,” said the vice governor, an actor.

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