Badian hit for ‘irregular’ use of disaster funds

·3 min read

THE Municipal Government of Badian, southwest Cebu has been asked to explain why it spent more than half a million pesos sourced from the town’s local disaster funds to buy sacks of rice, which it gave to municipal officials and regular, casual and job order employees, among others.

In its 2021 audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) asked Badian town officials led by Mayor Carmencita Lumain why the town spent around P553,037.50 from its Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Funds (LDRRMF) to buy sacks of rice for its town employees and even uniformed personnel who were involved in combating the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the town.

State auditors said this was deemed an “irregular expenditure” which resulted in the improper and ineffective use of the town’s LDRRMF and violated a joint circular issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other agencies.

During a post-audit of transactions, state auditors found that on March 18, 2021, the Municipal Government issued a check to a certain DJ & J Trading and General Merchandise as payment for 50-kilo sacks of commercial rice totaling P553,037.50.

The sacks of rice were given to town officials and employees, both regular and contractual, and to local police and firefighters as a “year-end food assistance” for their service in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the town.

Sanggunian authorized grant

State auditors found that the expenditure was authorized following the passage of a Sangguniang Bayan (SB) resolution to provide a sack of rice to town officials, employees and uniformed personnel.

The expenditure, according to the SB resolution, would be charged against the appropriation of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.

But state auditors said the move was questionable as the expenditure benefited only the town’s officials and employees, and not its constituents.

“The above expenditure implies benefits for the employees and not for the general welfare of the populace, hence, should be charged to other personnel benefits of General Fund. Charging of ineligible expenditures against the LDRRM fund resulted in the reduction of the fund, which may no longer be sufficient when needed in times of calamities and other emergencies,” they added.

The move was also seen as a violation of a joint circular issued by the NDRRMC, the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of the Interior and Local Government that mandates local government units (LGUs) to use the five percent of their estimated revenue set aside as the LDRRMF “to support disaster risk management activities such as, but not limited to, pre-disaster preparedness programs including training, purchasing life-saving rescue equipment, supplies and medicines, for post-disaster activities, and for the payment of premiums on calamity insurance.”

The joint circular also states that the LDRRMF shall cover 30 percent lump-sum allocation as the LGU’s Quick Response Fund and 70 percent for disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation and recovery.

State auditors recommended to municipal officials to submit justification on the alleged irregular expenditure.

Reply

In their reply to state auditors, municipal officials agreed to the COA’s recommendation.

They also vowed to refrain from using the LDRRMF for projects, programs and activities that are not related to the conduct of disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery measures.

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