MONEY WATCH | Beyond the P2,250 Vitamin C: Breaking down the COVID annual investment programs for 2020 (Part 1 of 5)

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IN A NUTSHELL

  • The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, with an allocation of more than P38 million, had the highest budget among the four offices that sent requests to the City Development Council
  • The Department of Social Services had the highest single-purpose budget – food assistance – at P30,000,000
  • Total budget overcalculated by City Development Council but adjusted on the floor by Sangguniang Panlungsod
  • Typo errors found by city council in request of CDRRMO request that was overcalculated by P32 million
  • Some items in CHO budget undercalculated

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Mainstream and social media have been abuzz lately on the questions raised by lone opposition Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. over the price estimate of the City Health Office for film-coated Vitamin C tablets.

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The issue: P2,250 for “sodium ascorbate Vitamin C with zinc” under the “medicines” list of the City Health Office.

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The supplements are only part of the 25-item “supplies needed for COVID19” list submitted by CHO administrative officer Eleah Malapitan and physician Ma. Carmela Gensoli, city health officer.

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In this report, DNX takes a look at the entire supplemental budget allocation and breaks down the summary list of supplemental annual investment programs originally calculated to be worth P146 million (145,964,050) submitted to the city council here by the City Development Council for the approval of the supplemental budget.

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It was later recomputed on the city council floor and was found to be only worth P113,964,050.

Gamboa and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran both told DNX it was a “typo error” as the proposed budget for the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) was originally calculated at more than P64 million.

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For this report, DNX went over the documents submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Bacolod City, which approved the allocation of P113 million as additional funds for the COVID19 response of the city, during its special session on 31 August 2020.

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These nine documents have been made publicly available by the council, and were furnished DNX by Gamboa.

These are:

  • the 27 August 2020 letter of Mayor Evelio Leonardia to the Sangguniang Panlungsod requesting for a special session
  • Resolution No. 12, series of 2020 of the City Development Council approving the supplemental annual investment programs for 2020 in view of the COVID19 situation passed by the CDC on 27 August 2020 after a virtual meeting
  • the summary list of supplemental annual investment programs
  • the breakdown of supplemental annual investment programs
  • the supplies needed list from the City Health Office
  • the proposed list of priority projects for inclusion to 2020-2021 AIP from the Office of the City Engineer
  • program of works from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office
  • program of works from the Department of Social Services and Development
  • Resolution No. 13, series of 2020 of the City Development Council passed also on 27 August 2020 requesting the realignment of Calendar Year 2020’s Annual Investment Programs in view of the COVID situation
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This report will present the bigger picture by breaking down the allocation for the 2020 AIP, what offices and specific projects the P113 million will go to, how the offices will spend the money and what projects in the barangays have been affected because of the

realignment.

FOUR OFFICES FROM HIGHEST TO LOWEST

The City Development Council had passed Resolution No. 12 approving the supplemental annual investment programs for this year in a virtual meeting on 27 August.

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The CDC secretariat is chaired by accountant Mary Jean Ramos, wife of lawyer-councilor Dindo Ramos, a member of the ruling local party Grupo Progreso.

Mary Jean and CDC vice chair George Zulueta signed the Resolution.

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In the summary list, the CDC identified four requesting offices: City Health (CHO), City Engineering (CEO), Disaster Risk Reduction Management (CDRRMO), and the Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD) – all of which had total requests originally calculated to be P145,964, 050 – a result of “typographical errors,” according to two officials.

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Of the four offices, the CDRRMO had the highest budget request at P32,380,000 (originally calculated based on the submitted request to be P64,760,000), followed by the DSSD at P30,000,000, the CEO at P28,700,000, and the CHO with the least budget at P22,504,050.

Based on the breakdown of the requesting offices, the DSSD is the only single-item spending, only food assistance, when compared to other offices that had multiple item expenditures.

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BREAKDOWN BY OFFICE

The CHO was the requesting office that first drew attention to its budget after Gamboa raised questions over the reported P2,250 estimate for “sodium ascorbate with zinc.”

TABLE 1. Breakdown of request of City Health Office based on City Development Council Annual Investment Plans 2020 Supplemental Budget
TABLE 1. Breakdown of request of City Health Office based on City Development Council Annual Investment Plans 2020 Supplemental Budget

The documents submitted to the council showed, however, that of the five items listed in the CHO request, “medicines and vitamins” had the least amount at P4.5 million.

The highest request was for “other supplies” at P10.4 million (10,376,250).

The other items are: (figures rounded off to nearest hundred thousands)

Contact tracing IT equipment – P1.2 million (1,192,800)

Medical equipment and supplies – P6.4 million (6,435,000)

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