Cebu News

City mulls ordinance protecting office funds

Kristine B. Quintas/BRP - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City Council is set to pass a measure protecting the funds of all City Hall departments and commissions.

This was after the council learned from Cebu City treasurer Diwa Cuevas during yesterday's end of budget hearing that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama's executive assistant Carlos "Charlie" Reyes has a remaining P1 million in unliquidated cash advances from the P4.7 million since last year.

Reyes, a special disbursement officer, was earlier authorized by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to cash advance a total of P4.7 million granted July 3 and August 7, 2012.

OIC city  financial division chief Mark Jason Tirol recently said the bulk of the cash advances was used to pay for the prizes and trophies of the winners of basketball tournaments in different barangays.

With the outstanding unliquidated cash advances, Cuevas said the accounting department withheld Reyes' salaries since January. The liquidation was supposed to be done within 30 days as stipulated by the Commission on Audit, said Cuevas.

Considering that the liquidation already lapsed the required period, Cuevas said they will be endorsing the matter to Rama for the possible release of a suspension order.

Councilor Richard Osmeña, chairman of the committee on games, amusement and sports, and also a member of the sports commission board, allegedly said "Reyes has been a headache to the commission because magbuot-buot siya’g purchase og balls and basket boards."

In addition to, Cebu City council majority floor leader Margarita Osmeña, chairwoman of  the committee on budget and finance, pointed out that last January 13, P1 million was utilized "relative to sports program." However, she said the amount was used by "someone."

"It seems that this account (P1M) was used by anybody or everybody, sayang baya kay the amount was supposed to be for the sports commission," she said.

She also asked why there was P700,000 for the honorarium of the mayor's office, Cuevas said it was a cash advance for the sports commission.

Also, Osmeña questioned the authority of a certain Rainier Ramos, from the General Services Office detailed at the sports commission, in making cash advances of over P100,000.

Cuevas explained that Ramos was "bonded" for such an amount, being a lone regular staff in the said commission. However, Cuevas clarified that the amount was for reimbursement of the procured sports supplies and honoraria of referees and not for cash advance as mentioned by Osmeña.

Cuevas further cited the provision of the COA that only regular employees authorized by the city mayor are allowed to cash advance.

Osmeña also stressed that the commission shall know where the fund goes and shall authorize with appropriate recommendation to the person who will process the cash advance for proper and strict regulation.

"Para ang funds intended for specific purpose dili gamiton for different purposes...we have to safeguard the funds," she added.

Councilor Alvin Dizon said there should be appropriate charges filed against the erring government employees to discourage this.

"It is public funds and so we are bound to use it wisely as possible," he added. (FREEMAN)



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