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HomeLocal NewsTruth Commission probe on, Albee raises questions over billions in City Hall...

Truth Commission probe on, Albee raises questions over billions in City Hall funds

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The Truth Commission of incoming Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez has started its initial probe on City Hall transactions here with Benitez raising questions over around P2 billion in government funds as he readies to become mayor two days from now.

Benitez said in a press statement that the Commission will look into all transactions entered into by City Hall and will only honor those that are compatible with “applicable laws, rules and regulations.”

Lawyer Lyzander “Bong” Dilag, spokesman of Benitez read parts of a three-page statement and briefer furnished reporters today, 28 June 2022 during a news conference.

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The lawyers outlined in the briefer eight points that have been “redflagged” by Benitez as they pursue a ‘good governance review.”

The eight points outlined in the briefer were based on “available (Commission on Audit) reports” that would, however, “require a more detailed examination.”

Cash grants and cash advances amounting to P270 million were among those mentioned that “were reported to remain unliquidated within the prescribed period.”

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This means documents needed to liquidate the funds have not yet been submitted long after the release of these funds.

The briefer cited that from 2017 to 2019, government officials, employees and” special disbursing officers” received P130 million in advances while from 2017 to 2019, various non government organizations got grants amounting to P49 million.

In 2020, government officials and employees related to the COVID pandemic advanced P183 million while medical supplies and protective personal equipment purchase advanced through some employees reached P38 million.

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These items alone reached P270 million.

The biggest item which raised questions for the Benitez lawyers was the “construction in progress accounts” that reached P1.004 billion.

At least P506 million was also paid to contractors for landfill and sanitation services like collection and hauling services and landfill preparation without the needed supporting documents.

The briefer also noted “weaknesses in recording and monitoring” involving “gross inefficiencies in recording and monitoring funds and projects in the General Services, City Engineer and City Accountants offices in 2017 and 2018 that totalled P177 million.

Leonardia administration officials were sought for comment but did not return calls and messages from DNX.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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