Iloilo City a ‘headache’ for COA


The Iloilo City government has allowed millions of pesos in unliquidated cash advances to remain in the hands of disbursing officers during the Trenas administration, which is considered a failing mark in the area of fiscal administration, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported in its 2010 annual audit report.

At the same time, the Trenas administration ignored Republic Act No. 9184 by procuring goods, infrastructure and consulting services valued at P32.9 million despite the absence of a Project Procurement Management Plan and Annual Procurement Plan, the same report said.

And the city government has registered poor performance in carrying out COA audit recommendations to strengthen fiscal administration, managing to implement only two such recommendations out of 17. Eight were partially implemented while seven were never put into effect, the COA AAR said.

The highlights of this COA report show a city government that was poorly managed and opened the doors for corrupt practices to flourish during the incumbency of Jerry P. Trenas as local chief executive, Iloilo Press Club president Rommel S. Ynion said.

“When a local government routinely ignores COA findings and brazenly violates the law in pursuing its projects and projects, then we have a serious problem in our hands,” Ynion, who is also Publisher of The News Today (TNT), said.

Ynion said the six-page Executive Summary of the COA report devoted 90% of its content to negative findings about the city government operations for the year ending December 31, 2009.

“We can’t allow a situation like this to continue,” he said. He will be filing a complaint before the Ombudsman to put Trenas, as local chief executive during that period, to task and hold him accountable, he added.

The COA report also discovered that the city allowed P24.2 million in trust fund accounts with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to remain dormant, which placed the LGU at risk of having to pay bank charges for dormant accounts and could jeopardize the implementation of vital projects and programs.

The COA report painted a discouraging picture of a “rudderless” city government in which “a mutinous crew did whatever they pleased with the captain of the ship not minding at all,” he said.

The failure, or outright refusal, of the city government to implement the COA recommendations for previous years worsened the situation, he added.

“The Trenas administration treated the COA like a rag,” he said.

Ynion said this COA report reinforces his belief that corruption became deeply-rooted in the city government during the Trenas years and “reached its pinnacle with the bidding for the seven-story city hall project.”

“This is very unfortunate,” he said. “The city leadership literally cultivated a culture of corruption that resulted in the biggest scandal in our community,” he added.

Ynion said the COA cannot be allowed to become a “toothless tiger” that is not respected by public officials.

If COA cannot enforce its own findings and recommendations, then he will seek the intervention of the Ombudsman to make sure the public interest is protected, he said.

Ynion has been in the forefront in exposing the alleged anomalies in the bidding and construction of the new City Hall project.

He has accused Trenas and Mabilog of defrauding the people in prosecuting what he described as a “grossly-overpriced contract worth P368 million” just for the structural shell of the building.

At that price, the construction cost of the building is P26,000 per square meter, which is already the upper limit of the industry standards for a complete medium-rise structure, he said.

“It’s like saying we are buying a Kia Pride car for the price of a Mercedes Benz,” he said.

Ynion said that he is also a contractor and he knows the business well.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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