Gwen’s releases of calamity aid ‘didn’t pass Provincial Board’; Auditors ask for supporting papers | Inquirer News
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COA CHECKS ON P29-MILLION AID

Gwen’s releases of calamity aid ‘didn’t pass Provincial Board’; Auditors ask for supporting papers

State auditors are asking about the Cebu provincial government’s release of P29 million in calamity funds, which includes aid to provinces outside Cebu.

The Commission on Audit (COA) wrote the Capitol asking whether the fund  disbursement was deliberated and approved by the Provincial Board.

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“Tell the truth,” said Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale to  Provincial Secretary Anecita Pasaylo, who received the letter query.

“It’s not in the minutes because it was never discussed in the Board.”

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The COA had asked about  the fund release and a copy of the minutes of  sessions where the matter was deliberated.

“Annie asked me how to respond. I said to tell the truth,” said Magpale, who presides over the legislative body.

“It never passed us. It was just given out, ” she added.

The COA letter was not released to the media at the request of Pasaylo, who said she needs a day to frame a response.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, whose most recent release of calamity aid went to victims of last week’s flooding in Luzon, said there was “no need” to seek prior approval of the Provincial Board because the P29 million release was part of the P87 million standby calamity fund that is part of the province’s annual budget.

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“Let me just inform her (Magpale), it’s always good to be very circumspect before conducting a press conference.  It is good to do your homework  first, and be very, very careful.”

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Last June, Garcia gave  P1.85 million cash assistance for flood struck areas in Mindanao and turned over P10 million to  Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City after Typhoon Sendong devastated the two cities in December 2011.

Another P7 million went to Negros Oriental province and its towns badly hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake.

The generous out-of-town donations, initiated by the governor, also stirred questions when her plans to run for the Senate became apparent this year.

“We have been upheld by the Supreme Court that in the execution of the budget, for the payment of goods and services based on an appropriation ordinance, no prior authority or approval is needed from the Sanggunian Panlalawigan since the appropriation ordinance itself is already deemed the authority of the SP,” Garcia said.

She said this matter was cleared up in an exit conference with the COA.

In a previous audit finding, the COA required the Province to seek approval of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan or Provincial Board but Garcia said she was able to satisfactorily explain her position to the COA 7 regional director in an exit conference .

Under the Local Government Code, five percent of revenue is set aside or reserved as calamity funds.

“When other places or provinces are declared under a state of calamity, we can use the calamity fund to assist other provinces,” said Garcia.

“If we need to get a board resolution every time we want to help, for example, there’s a fire in Cebu City, it is already part of the executive budget.  You can tap these resources.”

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TAGS: Calamity funds, Cebu, COA
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