IRA funds for typhoon victims ‘legal’ — Amores

·2 min read

AN OPPOSITION councilor of the Lapu-Lapu City Council has insisted that the use of P66 million from funds intended for development projects to add to the P236 million calamity fund is legal.

This after City Budget Officer Judith Furuta said funds intended for development projects cannot be realigned for other purposes such as the distribution of financial aid to the city’s barangays ravaged by Typhoon Odette (Rai).

Councilor Ricardo Amores told SunStar Cebu the use of the city’s development fund is valid under the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Finance (DOF), and Department of the Interior and Local Goverment (DILG) Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 1 dated Nov. 4, 2020.

The JMC 1 covers revised guidelines on the appropriation and utilization of the 20 percent annual Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for development projects.

Amores pointed out donations or financial assistance extracted from the development fund were not among the list of expenditures that cannot be charged against the 20 percent IRA.

“Therefore, the donation to the barangays based on our ordinance is legal under the joint memorandum circular,” said Amores.

Unliquidated expenses

On the issue that 28 out of 30 barangays still have unliquidated expenses from their previous financial aid from the city, Amores argued the same is true with the Office of the Mayor and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) that reportedly have hundreds of millions of pesos worth of unliquidated expenses based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report.

City Accountant Helen Dungog said the 28 barangays still have to liquidate the financial assistance previously received from the City before they can get the financial aid for Typhoon Odette-stricken residents.

Under the ordinance, financial aid will be downloaded straight to the barangays instead of coursing it through the Executive Department’s CSWDO.

Amores explained each barangay has around 20 to 25 personnel who can help with the swift distribution of the financial assistance compared to the CSWDO which has only around 40 personnel.

He said the barangays also know very well the extent of damage in their areas and this is where the CSWDO also gets its data.

‘Malversation’

Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan has yet to receive the ordinance increasing the calamity fund to P302 million passed on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.

But Chan expressed concern city officials, including him, may face malversation charges should the P66 million be added to the fund.

“Di man to siya pwede magasto. Ma-technical man ta ana. Ako ma’y ma-priso (We can’t spend that. We will be cited on a technicality and it will be I who will go to jail),” Chan said.

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