(Photo courtesy of Ugnayan sa Barangay of City Mayor's Office (CMO)).

The official in charge of the city government’s Ugnayan sa Barangay Program on Monday dismissed allegations that the bulk of their funding for the current year was used for campaigning during the last local elections.

Feliberto Oliveros III, Ugnayan sa Barangay program manager, admitted that they had used the bulk of their funds to buy some 47,000 sacks of rice for distribution to the barangays in January as part of their program mandate. He denied however this was used for campaigning.

“Hindi nagamit sa politika ‘yan. Kung nagamit namin sa politika ‘yan, baka natalo pa si Konsehal Maristela di ba?” Oliveros said.

Oliveros was reacting to opposition Councilor Jimbo Maristela’s demand for an accounting of the program’s P31 million annual budget which he claimed was disbursed during only the first quarter of the year leading up to the May elections.

Oliveros explained that they had spent some P19 million for the bulk purchase of some 47,000 sacks of rice and around P6 million for medicines.

He said that they had requested for a P60 million total budget for the current year but only got approved for P31 million.

“Alam naman natin na maraming priorities ‘yong siyudad, hindi ko po mapwersa na mahingi ‘yong P60 million, kung kaya’t P30 million lang ang na-approve,” he said.

He explained that with their limited funding, they initially budgeted for only 15 barangays for the first quarter of the year but Mayor Lucilo Bayron decided in January to use the budget to cover 28 barangays.

In a privilege speech last week, Maristela tried but failed to block an additional appropriation for the program amounting to P25,751,090 under the Supplemental Budget No. 2 for 2019.

He asked the city government to provide the Council an explanation of the fund’s depletion.

Meanwhile, Maria Regina Cantillo, city budget officer, clarified that there still is some P2.5 million left from the P31 million fund of the program.

She said the remaining P2.5 million is allocated for the salary of the Ugnayan sa Barangay staff.

“Base sa programa na isinubmit ng opisina sa Ugnayan sa Barangay, nakalagay po dito na people’s enhancement and capacity building, ang time frame nila ay January to December, ang poverty alleviation ay January to March, government civil service component ay January to December,” Cantillo said.

Engr. Jovenee Sagun, chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) said the bidding for the program’s purchases was conducted during the last quarter of 2018 and was awarded January of 2019.

City accountant Charlito Padul told Palawan News that the program followed the procurement law.

“Wala din naman kaming nakikitang irregularities. Tama ‘yong proseso, ‘yong bidding, ‘yong procurement na ginawa before the approval, it is in the law,” Padul said.

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