New Bacolod mayor to push for transparent governance

Domestic Affairs

Mayor-elect Alfredo Benitez will form a committee to “help ensure a clean and transparent government” as he takes over the leadership of this city on June 30.

Lawyer Lyzander Dilag, spokesperson of Benitez, said on Tuesday the incoming mayor is expected to issue an executive order once he assumes office for the creation of the so-called “truth commission”.

“This is in furtherance of the efforts of the Albee Benitez administration to ensure that the endemic and systemic corruption may be corrected and necessary measures will be instituted by the incoming administration,” he said in a press briefing held at the Negros Residences here.

Dilag was joined by former state auditor Marilou Reyes as a resource person, and fellow lawyers, including Pacifico Maghari III, Joseph Karol Chiu, and Romeo Carlos Ting Jr., who have been designated as incoming city administrator, secretary to the mayor, and city legal officer, respectively.

Dilag said as a starting point, they have identified eight items in the city’s expenses that require a more detailed examination, based on available Commission on Audit (COA) reports.

These include unliquidated cash grants and cash advances, the release of public funds to contractors of landfill facilities and sanitation services without supporting documents for accomplishment, substantial discrepancies in “construction-in-progress accounts”, and supposed purchase of equipment sourced from the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.

Others include improper recording of supplies inventory accounts, use of quick response funds for procurement of certain projects not distributed by year-end, unimplemented projects, and weakness in recording and monitoring.

Reyes said the information was sourced from COA annual audit reports covering the period 2017 to 2020.

“These annual audit reports are now available to the public. You can see it on the website of the COA,” she added.

Reyes acknowledged that “some of the findings might have already been addressed,” however, based on the action on prior years’ audit recommendations, there are “still a lot of findings for the period covered that have remained unimplemented and some have been partially implemented”.

“There are those of course, which have already been addressed. Probably the fact-finding committee would have to look into it,” she added.

In a statement, Benitez, who will succeed Mayor Evelio Leonardia, said the committee will look into the transactions entered into by the city government to ensure that only those that complied with applicable laws, rules, and regulations will be honored by his administration.

“To achieve our goal of good governance, it may be a necessary consequence to hold accountable those public officials who may have violated our laws. The goal of this process is also to serve as a warning to all those serving under my administration to adhere to existing laws and proper procedures,” he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency