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COA to Iloilo mayor: tarpaulins, comedians not gov’t spending

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by Allan Yves Briones

The Commission on Audit (COA) scolded Mayor Carlos Cabangal Jr. of Banate, Iloilo for charging the provincial government P380,000 for the purchase of “oversized welcome tarpaulins with Christmas greetings”, other welcome tarpaulins of various political figures and a stand-up comedian, among others, for the local Kasag Festival.

Under Section 305 of the Local Government Code, local government funds shall be spent “solely for public purposes.”

The commission cited the case of Yap v. COA, Gr. No. 158562 where the Supreme Court ruled that spending for “public purpose or public use” means expenditures which are “directly available to general public as matter of right.” In addition, activities which “will serve as a benefit to the community as a body” are also considered for public purpose.

And yet, the provincial government of Iloilo granted two fund transfers for the use of Mayor Cabangal for various cultural activities which, according to state auditors, “have not passed the public purpose test and not necessary in carrying out the mandates of the Local Government Unit.”

Under COA Circular No. 2012-003, unnecessary expenditures are those forms of spending “which could not pass the test of prudence or the diligence of a good father of a family, thereby denoting non-responsiveness to the exigencies of service” – in short, does not contribute to constituency of the local government.

State auditors stressed that the local accounting office must be responsible for “controls and thorough review ” of such expenditures to avoid the recurrence of the deficiency.

In the report, the provincial accountant of Iloilo admitted that the aforementioned liquidations were “overlooked” and that future transactions will be reviewed before cash transfers are granted. Also, the funds granted to Mayor Cabangal are to be refunded to the province’s treasury.