Sanggunian members slam governor for purchase of P70-M worth of vehicles during pandemic



KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato – Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here have slammed South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. for the procurement of vehicles worth P70 million by the provincial government instead of prioritizing the budgetary assistance for the province’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response programs. 

Vice Gov. Vicente De Jesus, said the governor had earlier asked for the approval of the supplemental budget, amounting to P71 million for the purchase of some 60 brand new vehicles that will be given to barangay officials, judges and local police. 

 He stressed that the governor had requested the realignment of 2019 development funds for the construction of roads and bridges needed for the purchase of vehicles. 

The vice-governor said he and several board members opposed the procurement of vehicles which contradicted the government’s thrust to observe austerity in government’s expenditures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He cited the memorandum issued by Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which prohibits the disbursement of public funds for the purchase of vehicles except for ambulance, police and military vehicle as part of the government’s austerity measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Though the DBM memorandum circular covers national government agencies and offices, De Jesus stressed that the provincial government should have taken some prudence in observing austerity and prioritization in the disbursement of public funds during the pandemic. 

 He said the provincial government should set an example in observing austerity measures and sensitivity in the utilization of funds during this pandemic. 

He lamented that the local finance committee under the governor’s office failed to provide the Sanggunian substantial documents relative to the procurement of the vehicles, including the list of the beneficiaries. 

Tamayo explained that the vehicles will be purchased by the provincial government to be used by the barangay officials in the campaign against COVID-19 in their localities. 

Board Members Ellen Grace Albios and Jinky Avance have withdrawn their request for new official vehicles, and instead, told the governor to use the funds for COVID-19 response initiatives of the provincial government. 

Subere said the funds should be used instead for other priorities to cushion the impact of COVID-19 like the purchase of food items for marginalized sectors and school materials and supplies needed by local public schools for their on-line and modular teaching schemes.


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