SP discretionary fund abolished? Irregularities found in SPA spending


BACOLOD City — The Commission on Audit (COA) issued notices of suspension for transactions using the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s (SP) Special Projects Allocation (SPA) after finding irregularities in how the fund was spent, a capitol official revealed.

The agency discovered that “some of the [purchases] of SP members did not go through public bidding [and were] mostly reimbursements,” Provincial Administrator Enrique Pinongan yesterday said.

Pinongan said the state auditors also found out that some materials bought using the SPA did not pass through the General Services Office, as proper procedures require.

“We have forwarded the findings of the COA to the Accounting Office and the SP members,” Pinongan said.

Right now, “there is no SPA,” he revealed. All purchases by the SP will be done through the Office of the Governor, he said.

Every SP member must submit to Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. a list of his priority projects that need funding, he said.

SPA is a discretionary fund released by the governor’s office to the vice governor and SP members to be used for their projects.

SP’s elected members last year received P2 million each.

Its ex-officio members — Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president, Association of Barangay Councils president and Philippine Councilors’ League president — got P1 million each.

Some P8 million was released to the office of Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.

But both Marañon and Lacson had no knowledge about the COA’s findings yet.

“I have not seen it yet,” the governor said. “No notice has given to the SP,” said the vice governor, the SP’s presiding officer.

SP member Salvador Escalante (2nd District), chair of the committee on finance, budget and appropriation, said the SPA remains, only that a “new system” is being implemented.

“It’s just like what sa Congress now, where the system was changed,” he told Panay News in a text message yesterday said.

Escalante said SP members are sometimes in a quandary regarding what projects or requests from their constituents they are allowed to fund using SPA.

“Since there are no rules to guide us, everything is considered okay,” he said./PN