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Transparency: It takes a village to do it

/ 07:30 AM August 15, 2014

SAN PEDRO CITY—A village in this city is showing the national government how simple it is to be transparent—just do it.

Since July 30, the village of San Antonio has started maintaining a website, brgysanantonio.ph, where visitors could see how the village uses its funds.

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Eugenio Ynion Jr., village chief, said the website is still being improved. So far, it contains 12 navigation tabs which lead to the village’s programs, ordinances and statements.

Under the tab labeled “financial report,” the village lists its finance balance sheet, profits and losses.

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A check on Wednesday showed a six-month summary of the village’s financial records from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2014.

Ynion, who owns a private shipping company, said officials planned to update the website content every month.

Financial details

The site showed that the village earned P20 million in income in the first half of the year but spent P16 million for personnel services, under which are the items salaries and wages, honoraria and 13th month pay and other operating costs.

The village has P5 million in assets and nearly P1 million in debts.

Ynion said village officials try to keep the site as detailed as possible for transparency.

For instance, the financial report shows that the village spent P1 million on fuel alone for official vehicles and that the village owes Ynion himself around P600,000.

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Asked how the village got to owe him the money, Ynion said he advanced his personal funds to buy motorcycles for village officials.

“You do that even in the corporate world,” said Ynion.

The financial report was prepared by the village treasurer.

Barangay (village) San Antonio is the largest in terms of land area (780 hectares) and second most populated (47,825 population) among 20 villages in the city. The village has under its jurisdiction a relocation site and a posh, private subdivision.

Small gesture

Ynion said putting out the financial report online promotes “transparency even just at the village level.”

He said they need not wait for the enactment of the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which gives the public access to government documents.

“In the stock market, even if you own just one share in the company, the (company’s) board of directors is obligated to provide you with the financial report. How much more if it’s public money?” he said.

Various sectors have been clamoring for passage of the FOI bill especially at the height of corruption controversies plaguing the national government. President Aquino did not mention the FOI bill in his fifth State of the Nation Address last month but included it on the list of the administration’s priority bills.

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