Negros Or. used calamity funds to buy SUVs – COA

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    THE provincial government of Negros Oriental used P5.67 million of its Local Disaster Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) to buy two Montero Sport sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and a Mitsubishi Strada 4×4 pickup which ended up being used by politicians, a 2019 Commission on Audit (COA) report released last July 22 showed.

    Government auditors said the transaction appears to be contrary to Memorandum Circular No.2014-155 released by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminding all local government units that the acquisition of motor vehicles and equipment using the LDRRMF must be “exclusively for rescue and (emergency) response activities.”

    Likewise, the Department of Budget and Management Budget Circular No. 2017-1 specified that vehicles may be allowed for procurement using disaster funds but these should be “multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) with rescue equipment and apparatus on board, pick-up trucks with the same provisions, or motorcycles.”

    “Clearly the types of vehicles purchased out of the LDRRMF did not conform to the allowable vehicles that could be used for immediate disaster response and rescue/relief operations,” the COA said.

    Likewise, examinations of trip tickets on the said vehicles revealed that they were instead converted into service vehicles for LGU officials.

    “The Montero SUV with Plate No. NN5956 was being utilized as a service vehicle of the provincial governor in the conduct of his day-to-day operations, while the Strada 4×4 pick up with Plate No. B4H897 served as his backup vehicle,” the audit team reported.

    On the other hand, the second Montero SUV with Plate No. NM5757 was traced to the municipal mayor of Pamplona, Negros Oriental who is also using the same car for his service vehicle.

    These observations were confirmed by officials of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) who claimed the local chief executives’ functions include activities related to disaster prevention, preparedness, response and rehabilitation.

    The auditors said the trips undertaken by the LGU officials may be connected to their exercise of their official functions and duties but the source of the funds used for the acquisition of the vehicles is questionable.