Nalzaro: Safeguarding the people’s money

Bobby Nalzaro

SOME barangay captains allied with the opposition, Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), accused Mayor Edgardo Labella of playing politics regarding the release of the City Government’s P5 million financial assistance to each of the city’s 80 barangays that he promised when he assumed office last July. The amount was already included in the 2019 budget.

Inayawan Barangay Captain Kirk Bryan Repollo, a BOPK ally, accused Labella of playing politics as the mayor kept changing the requirements so barangays could avail themselves of the cash aid.

Repollo, a lawyer, is the legal counsel of “has-been” mayor Tomas Osmeña in the libel case the latter filed against me, but the case was dismissed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Regional Trial Court (RTC). He ran for councilor in the south district in the last elections under BOPK but lost.

Repollo claimed that he already submitted the requirements but then he was required to submit a liquidation of the previous financial assistance. How could he come up with a liquidation report when his predecessor, Lotlot Ignacio-Soon, did not turn over the documents when her term expired? As a measure, Repollo filed a case against Ignacio-Soon before the anti-graft office.

Repollo also claimed that he submitted the other requirements to the accounting division last Nov. 28, but the documents went missing. He said when he went to City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) office, and Councilors Raymond Garcia and Edu Rama for assistance, he was given the “runaround.”

Is Repollo a victim of sabotage and politics by Labella’s men? But if Labella is playing politics, how come other barangays whose barangay chiefs are identified with BOPK like Busay, Apas, Sinsin, Mabolo, Cogon Ramos, Capitol Site, Adlaon and many others had received their respective shares?

While some financial assistance is ready for release, barangay captains are apprehensive to receive the amount because they are made to sign a prepared “Affidavit of Undertaking” that mandates them to liquidate the previous financial assistance. They could also be held personally liable should COA disallow it. Here’s part of the “Affidavit of Undertaking:”

“Upon receipt, I take full responsibility in my official capacity as the Barangay Captain for the liquidation of this financial assistance through the Commission on Audit (COA) and in accordance with COA rules within the period provided by law. At present time, my barangay has unliquidated balance from prior years’ financial assistance from Cebu City;

“I also commit and undertake to settle all my pending liquidations and/or comply all suspensions on or before March 31, 2020 for the remaining unliquidated financial assistance as mentioned in #4 in accordance with the existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations mandated by law and by the COA.

“I understand that in case of failure to liquidate to COA in full or in part from my office, I will be held personally liable to pay and return the amount corresponding to the unliquidated financial assistance; I also acknowledge that I will not be granted any future subsidy/financial assistance until I fully settle my unliquidated balances from prior years’ financial assistance;

“That should it appear in the post audit that the attached supporting documents are unable to substantiate the expenses incurred, I am willing to pay the amount disallowed and shall free the officers and officials of Cebu City Government from any liability thereof.”

I think Labella is just playing safe because the financial assistance is taxpayers’ money. He is just safeguarding the people’s money as he is accountable for it. Maayo man na og iya nang personal nga kuwarta. Dilikado ma-Ombudsman siya ani. Matod pa sa mga sugarol, “ma-unay siya sa tari” kay former director siya sa Ombudsman kaniadto. Busa kamo na lay mosabot kay kuti ning gobiyerno.