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Open letter to every Filipino: An Injustice to Robredo and the Filipino people

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Just this week the company Anos Research Manufacturing (ARM), the sole local manufacturer of firetrucks in our country,came out with a full page ad in several major newspapers expressing their disappointment on the alleged decision by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo to purchase firetrucks from foreign companies. Apparently, for the past several years they haven’t undergone any bidding process and have been the sole supplier of firetrucks that are being purchased by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) thus, they are now wondering why Robredo suddenly decided to accept other bidders from other countries. I don’t really understand why they are questioning this move by Robredo since there is really nothing wrong given that all government procurement of equipment should really undergo transparent and accountable public bidding wherein different suppliers can take part in. If ARM is very confident about the quality of its product then it should be more than willing to comply with the bidding process and not bring the battle to the level of public opinion which it is doing now.

As for supporting Filipino-made products, I am all for that but if a locally made firetruck is more inferior and more expensive than a foreign made one, does that still mean that I have no choice but to procure the locally made one even if it could mean costing our government millions more or even risking the lives of many because it is of lesser quality? Wouldn’t it be a graver injustice to every Filipino if we have to pay more for a firetruck that we all know is of lesser quality compared to a much better firetruck which would cost less but is made abroad? Given our government’s lack of resources to support the BFP, the millions of pesos that the BFP and the DILG will save through a proper and transparent bidding process could easily be used to procure additional fire prevention equipment that would eventually benefit the general public. I hope that ARM would be professional enough to accept the decision made by the DILG and the BFP and not act like a spoiled brat or sore loser who is trying to gain sympathy by bringing this issue to the court of public opinion.

There is no injustice committed by the DILG to ARM, the only injustice here is how ARM is now trying to tarnish the name of a good, upright leader because he decided against a few vested interests by making the right decision that will ultimately benefit the Filipino people.

Harvey S. Keh

Lead Convenor, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership

Email: harveykeh@gmail.com

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Response of Gov. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I received this article in reply to the blog/column I wrote about Gov. LRay Villafuerte’s refusal to adhere to the DILG’s Full Disclosure policy and the 2009 COA Report citing alleged anomalies in the finances of Camarines Sur. In the interest of fairness, I am publishing it in its entirety for everyone to read.

My only major observation is that for all the things that he has said it seems he has not answered the main question on why he does not support full transparency and public accountability of government funds. Bakit ayaw niyang ilantad sa taumbayan kung saan ginagastos ang pondo ng bayan? His answers here is more of an attack on DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo which he says should be blamed for the August hostage crisis but it was President Noynoy Aquino himself who said that at that time, Sec. Robredo wasn’t the one tasked to oversee operations of the PNP. I am sure that Sec. Robredo can more than defend himself once he reads this article by Gov. LRay, but for those who do not know Naga City has consistently received the Gawad Galing Pook Awards, the highest award local government units can receive, (http://www.galingpook.org/main/) and numerous national and international awards (http://naga.gov.ph/go/awards/) in his watch as Mayor. If Pres. Aquino truly does not trust Sec. Robredo, why hasn’t he replaced him? Gov. LRay should also know that Pres. Aquino recently made Sec. Robredo as head of the Cabinet’s national security cluster, which is one of the most powerful clusters in the Cabinet.  He was also tasked by the President to handle the informal settlers problem in Metro Manila. Why would Pres. Aquino do these if he does not trust Sec. Robredo?

As far as lacking of consultation and support among other local government units, the memorandum about the full disclosure policy was properly circulated among different LGU organizations. In fact, there was even a signing ceremony held with the leaders of the different leagues such as Mayor Oca Rodriguez of the League of Cities of the Philippines, Gov. Umali of the League of Provinces and Mayor Jeng Reyes of the National Movement of Young Legislators. Moreover, this policy by the DILG has already been enacted into law by the House of Representatives and the Senate as part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA).  Perhaps this policy is only unpopular and not supported by LGU leaders who have something to hide from their constituents.

Moreover, he defends Camarines Sur’s poverty data but the fact remains that more than 100,000 families in his province live in poverty. How can you even think of running for national office when almost 40% of your constituents continue to go hungry each day?

As far as flaunting his own personal achievements, Gov. LRay should know that both Sec. Robredo and I received the TOYM when we were only 31 years old much younger than when he received his when he was 34.  Robredo received it in 1990 while I received mine in 2010. Robredo also received the TOYP younger than when  Gov. LRay received his.

Finally, he cites that our Kaya Natin! leaders have failed to receive public trust by losing in the elections. It would be good for Gov. LRay to note that if our leaders did lose public trust then we wouldn’t have a KN Leader who is now part of the Senate in Sen. TG Guingona who now chairs the powerful Blue Ribbon Committee. We wouldn’t have leaders in the House of Representative in Reps. Bolet Banal and Teddy Baguilat, Jr., who despite having meager financial resources both defeated close allies of the previous administration. Those who lost in the last elections were clearly victims of the rampant vote-buying and electoral fraud perpetuated in the local level. Gov. LRay need not look far to validate these claims as one of our KN Leaders, former San Fernando, Camarines Sur Mayor Fermin Mabulo, who lost to Dato Arroyo due to massive vote-buying now works closely with him at the provincial capitol. Gov. LRay should also remember that in the last 5 local elections in Naga City, all the candidates that he and his family has fielded against Sec. Robredo and his allies have lost miserably. At Kaya Natin, we believe that it would be better for us to keep our principles and lose the elections rather than resort to illegal activities to win.

At the end of the day, the question that still begs to be answered is, why fight transparency and public accountability Gov. LRay?  Wala kang dapat katakutan kung wala ka namang tinatago.

Gov. Lray Villafuerte of Camarines Sur

Harvey Keh, Kaya Mo Ba?

by: Gov. LRay Villafuerte

Mr. Harvey Keh can you set the record straight? Can you be objective and not be biased?

It’s understandable that you are acting as the lawyer, defender, spokesperson of Sec. Jesse Robredo because he is part of your Kaya Natin Movement. However, as a journalist, you are obligated to be fair, objective , balanced and not be one-sided. It’s very obvious that after talking to Sec. Jesse Robredo, your friend and co-convenor on the Kaya Natin Movement, you just decided to malign my reputation through your article in the Manila Times dated March 10, 2011, without even attempting to get my side.

Setting The Record Straight

My question to you is, Did you actually read the Memorandum Circulars that Sec. Robredo issued that is the subject of the Supreme Court Case I filed? Did you actually read the petition and case I filed before the SC before you made a conclusion and accusation that I am trying to block the transparency and full disclosure policy.

To set the record straight and make it clear to you, I filed the case as Governor of the Province of Camarines Sur and filed it against Sec. Jesse Robredo, in his capacity as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Kindly note we filed the case against Sec. Robredo in his capacity as Secretary of DILG. Nothing personal here contrary to your insinuation that this is political. If he is replaced as DILG Secretary, the case goes on.

Also, we feel that the best venue / forum to settle a question of law is through the court. I have quietly filed the case in the Supreme Court without any announcement or media fanfare even in the local media. I have not told anyone in Camarines Sur nor did I have myself interviewed in local and national media about the filing of the case. I did not even tell my fellow governors about this because I firmly believe in settling the case in court and not engage in trial by publicity which you are obviously guilty of. Instead of letting the court decide the case, you have unfairly accused me of trying to gain national exposure, whereas it is you who is guilty of trying to get support and sympathy for Sec. Robredo at my expense. You have cited alleged accomplishments of Sec. Robredo and portrayed him as a champion of transparency, accountability and people participation. Whereas you failed to also be balanced and cite our actual tangible and concrete accomplishments in my less than 7 years as Governor compared to Sec. Robredo’s stay as mayor of Naga City for almost 20 years. Why didn’t you mention the numerous awards I have been accorded to? It seems that the only legacy Sec. Robredo accomplished when he was mayor of Naga City was only his personal accomplishment, which was to get numerous awards for himself. I ask you, have you been to Naga City? Compare it to Legaspi City and decide which is more progressive and developed? I ask you, what tangible and concrete projects did Sec. Robredo implemented to the City of Naga as mayor for 20 years? Kaya mo ba sagutin Ito? Tangible and concrete not just plans and policies. What job-generation programs did he directly implemented that resulted in direct, actual and quantifiable nos of people employed?

Pogi Points For Robredo?
After bungling the Luneta incident that resulted in in the death of Hongkong/Chinese nationals, the Ramon Magsaysay Awardee’s abilities have now been revealed. His poor handling of the inccident and succeeding fiascos at the DILG only proves that trying to be “POGI” in the Media is not enough to be an effective Secretary of the DILG. From being Mayor of Naga City with only 27 barangays, now he has to handle 80 provinces, 122 cities, 1512 municipalities and 42,000 barangays. Obviously, Hindi Kaya ni Robredo!

To cover up his incompetence, he tries to make up by again trying to resurrect his claim to fame as a “champion of transparency and accountability”. By issuing “DILG MEMO Circular nos. 2010-138, 2011-08, 2010-83.

Unconstitutional Circulars
Instead of being transparent and consultative, Sec. Robredo issued circulars without consulting local executives. As a former mayor he should promote local autonomy and decentralization. Instead, he issues DILG Circulars that shows his propensity to arrogate upon himself powers he cannot validly exercise.

MR. Keh, You Are Misinformed !
Contrary to your claim in your article that “many national organizations such as the League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities and League of Provinces strongly supported and hailed this move by the DILG “. The League of Provinces of the Philippines in our general assembly meeting last Jan 25, 2011 unanimously approved and passed the LPP Resolutions nos, 2011-005, and 2011-006″ calling the DILG to Recall Memo circulars 2011-08, 2010-83 and 2010-138 issued by Sec. Robredo as being unconstitutional ( herewith attached LPP Resolution for your info)

Also, in our most recent ULAP (Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines) meeting last March 4, 2011, Mayor Strike Revilla, the president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines questioned and assailed the Memo Circulars of Sec. Robredo. Mr. Harvey Keh, what is your basis in saying that the local officials supported and hailed the move of Sec. Robredo? Obviously your claim have been debunked. Kaya mo ba mag apologize publicly?

Also read this article at http://www.gmanews.tv/story/212338/dilg-on-full-disclosure-13-of-lgus-complied . The DILG admits that only 13% of LGU’s complied with Sec. Robredo’s “Full Disclosure” circulars. A strong sign that local officials are questioning Sec. Robredo’s intention, credibility and leadership. Kindly note that Naga City itself did not comply with the Memo Circulars issued by Sec. Robredo.

Sec. Robredo vs. Local Autonomy
The case at hand is not about transparency and full disclosure. Please don’t confuse the issue. The case I filed against Sec. Robredo in his capacity as DILG Secretary is about Memo Circulars he issued that we feel violate the constitutional provision that “shall ensure the autonomy of local government”. In addition, we felt that, the DILG Secretary invalidly and unlawfully assumed legislative powers in promulgating the assailed Memo Circulars which went beyond the clear and manifest intent of the 1987 Constitution and Local Government Code of 1991.

Mr. Keh, before you make false conclusions, insinuations and accusations, you should have thoroughly read the Circulars in question and more importantly the petition we filed. We will provide you a copy our petition in the hope that you will be fair and not biased and conclusive.

In your article, you posed the question ” is it unconstitutional to ask our government leaders to tell us how they are spending our hard earned taxpayer’s money?”. If you are open minded and after you have read our petition, you will be enlightened to know that the case we filed was not about ” the right of the people to information” . Again, it is about DILG Memo Circulars issued by Sec. Robredo as being violative of the constitutional provisions on Local Autonomy ( not the right to information) and for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess or jurisdiction.

As mentioned earlier, if there is a question of law, the perfect and only venue is through the court. Not through blogs and trial by publicity which you are guilty of. Shame on you!

Lastly, on the issue of transparency and accountability. Are you saying that without the circulars issued there is no full transparency and accountability in place for local government? Please read and study carefully Republic Acts 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act and Section 352 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which will guarantee full disclosure, transparency and accountability and full disclosure in Government. Over and above the Procurement Act and Local Government Code, various DBM and COA circulars have to be complied with to assure transparency and accountability. I am sure you also don’t know that there are additional measures implemented by the Commission on Audit (COA) to guarantee transparency and accountability and sound financial transactions. There is a COA process called Pre Audit, which guarantees that no amount of money is disbursed without passing through rigid COA Audit. Every PESO spent in government have to pass through pre audit by COA.

In conclusion and based on all the above information we gave you, you have no right to accuse me of blocking the full disclosure policy. Every citizen including myself, have the right to question and file petitions where there is a question of law or abuse of authority. Mr. Keh, You should listen to the voice of the people not just Sec. Robredo. If Sec. Robredo is indeed the champion of transparency and full disclosure policy, then you should ask Mr. Robredo why he did not file his Statement of Assets and Liabilities as mandated and required by law for four (4) consecutive years when he was mayor of Naga City, which was a subject of a case against him before the Ombudsman. I’m sure you did not know about this or else you probably would not have included Sec. Robredo in your Kaya Natin Movement.

In my case, we hope you will recognize that I was elected in 2004 with 52% votes in a 3 way fight. In the 2007 elections, 72% of the electorate voted for me and last 2010, I got over 209,000 lead over my opponent. This overwhelming show of support and confidence towards my administration is a sign not only of our transparent, accountable government but of the tangible and concrete achievement directly felt by our people.

Your accusations therefore are baseless. It’s very obvious Mr. Keh, you are the one guilty of playing politics and engaging in trial by publicity. You posed the question in your article that my filing of the case against Sec. Robredo “is a way of trying to gain national exposure for a reported plan to run for the Senate in the 2013 elections? This is definitely a BIG JOKE. My question to you is, Why should I try to gain popularity hitting on an already unpopular person? Sec. Robredo has lost his luster , his credibility diminished, abilities in question, Nationally, he is widely known as the cabinet secretary who bungled the Luneta incident that caused the death of innocent people and caused embarrassment to the nation.

It is not yet too late for Sec. Robredo to be man enough to accept his shortcomings and take full responsibility for the fiasco. He should stop making excuses. He should take the signal from P-Noy when he was only appointed in acting capacity and not submitted to the Commission on Appointments. He was appointed Secretary of The Interior and Local Government but publicly known as pronounced by P-Noy that he has no say in police matters. Should we call him the Secretary of the Local Government only? He should save himself from further embarrassment at least to his fellow Bicolanos and resign and not hang on to the position and be branded as “Kapit-tuko”

KINAYA NAMIN!
If ever I aspire to run for higher office, it will definitely be based on sound, tangible, concrete accomplishments from the time I was in the private sector as an entrepreneur and now as Governor. It has always been my practice to present my vision whether in business or in politics and more importantly how to put that vision into action. Track record for achieving the vision through concrete action will be my battle cry not media hype or shallow national exposure as you accuse me of engaging into. You probably refuse to recognize my personal achievements as you only like to brag about and recognize Sec. Robredo’s awards.

We hope that you do recognize that at the age of 34 I was chosen and accorded as one of Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) on Entrepreneurship and The World Young Businesses Achiever Award. In recognition for my achievement as a Private Sector Entrepreneur and introducing Entrepreneurship in government I was also chosen as The Outstanding Young Person of the World (TOYM) last 2008.

And despite all the odds and challenges with minimal support from the National Government and armed only with vision, commitment and strong will. We have managed to turn around CAMSUR. From a province in 2004, with prevalence of poverty, alarming malnutrition rate, typhoon and disaster prone, unstable peace and order, high migration rate and lacking in opportunity. In less than 5 years, we have achieved the following:

1.Reduced Malnutrition rate over 45%. From having the highest malnutrition rate in the Bicol region, Camsur now has the lowest number of under weight children from 0-5 years old and also now the 3rd in the region (despite being the biggest province) out of six (6) provinces for underweight children 6-10.

Source: 2008 National Nutrition Survey, Food and Nutrition Institute (FNRI), DOST.

2. From 39th to 10th richest province in the country. CAMSUR is no. 1 in the Bicol Region. No. 10 in the country out of 80 provinces in terms of net income and total equity.
Source: Commission on Audit (COA) Financial Statements highlights of LGU’s Fiscal year 2007.
3. CAMSUR is now the no.1 Tourist Destination in the Philippines.
Source: Table 1 Tourism Research and statistics Division, Department of Tourism.(see attached table)
4. Bicol Region Economy Grows by 8.2% in 2009, the highest in the country because of Tourism (CAMSUR).

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) posted August 6, 2010.

5. 6 out of 10 Tourists who come to the Bicol region visit CAMSUR.
Source: Dept. of Tourism, Region V. (Posted:December 14, 2009, NSCB – Reg. Div. V)
6. CAMSUR Watersports Complex (CWC): A break through in the Tourism industry
Source: Bicol Dev’t. updates, Vol II issue 2 RDC Council, NEDA, Reg. V.

7. The Province of Camsur, is the only province (LGU) awarded the Presidential Citation for Best Practice in Creating a Business and Investment Environment.
8. The Province of CAMSUR is the first LGU in the country to run and manage a PEZA approved, Information Technology Park, Tourism Economic Zone and an Agro-Industrial Economic Zone.
9. CAMSUR was awarded by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) as the Most Business Friendly Province in the country for 3 consecutive years (2004, 2005, 2006).

10.CAMSUR now is the 7th Top Rice Producer in the Country. (We also
achieved the highest growth rate for Palay Production for 2010.
Source: Dept. of Agriculture (DA and National Food Authority (NFA)
11. CAMSUR has the highest revenue from Economic Enterprises, region wide, amounting to Php170.1 million with a collection
efficiency of 137% for CY 2009.
Source: Certification signed by Regional Director Florencio Diño II
Bureau of Local Government Finance, dated March 8, 2010.
12. CAMSUR has the 3rd highest life expectancy in the country and
having the largest gains in life expectancy between 1980- 2006.
Source: p.102 Philippine Human Development Report 2008/2009,UNDP
13. CAMSUR cited as MOST Improved Province base on GINI Indices
(2003 and 2006).
Source: Statistical Annex 8, p.102, Philippine Human Development
Report 2008/2009, UNDP.
14. CAMSUR among the only six (6) LGU’s in the country accorded the Seal of Excellence Award given by the Civil Service Commission.
15. CAMSUR undoubtedly is the Sports Tourism Capital of the
Philippines. We have hosted the Wakeboarding World
Championship, 70.3 Ironman, International Triathlon, the Biggest
International Marathon in the country and more.
16. CAMSUR and Caramoan is the favorite film destination of the
Survivor Series in the World. We have hosted Survivor France,
Serbia, Sweden, and Israel and 10 more countries lined up.
17. CAMSUR has been selected as the site for the 22nd AD Congress.
We beat Cebu and Baguio in the Bid.

All of the above are tangible, concrete achievements and all of the data and statistics are accurate and verifiable.

We hope you do not turn a blind eye to all of the above laudable achievements. You insinuated in your article “that the money that tourism is generating for the Province isn’t being used properly by the leaders of the Province”. The above accomplishments mentioned definitely rebuffs your insinuations in your article.

We are proud of all our achievements we have accomplished only in the past 4-5 years. We have turned around the economy of CAMSUR and you have to at least recognize that we have put CAMSUR in the Global Map of Tourism and Business. Because of Tourism Income we have over 300,000 scholars in Elementary, High School and College yearly. We can provide you the names of those scholars to convince you that we spend money wisely and they directly benefit and trickle down to the poor people of CAMSUR.

NSCB Poverty Data

You mentioned in your article that based on the NSCB Report, poverty incidence in CAMARINES SUR has grown from 36.6 percent in 2006 to 38.7 percent in 2009. However you did not state and turned your blind eye again in the same NSCB Report Table 3 (http://www.nscb.gov.ph/poverty/2009/table_3.asp) it stated that the estimate magnitude of poor families in 2006 was 54,968 and in 2009 went down to 45,234. In the same NSCB report, it clearly stated that the magnitude of poor families from 2006 to 2009 has been reduced by 17%. A contradiction in the same report which leads us to think in the accuracy of the report. Kindly note that the NSCB is only one type of report that measures the poverty incidence. For your information, to give you insight on the manner in which they derive their data or report is through a household survey from that is more often just left in the household for the family to fill up which has a high risk of deriving inaccurate answers from the family. You cannot clearly measure the poverty incidence and get accurate data by simply filling up a form with no guidance and explanation. A more accurate measure that is clear and mapped out and updated regularly is the Community Based Monitoring System (CBMS) which is the accepted tool being used buy the United Nations in measuring poverty.

The NSCB report can be used as a guide but if we want to get an accurate report we should get from various tools, /reports and data from various sources and agencies and collate them.

Granting that the NSCB is 100% accurate since this has been your basis to malign me. Again you should have cited table 3 in the same report which reported a 17.7% reduction in the magnitude of poor families for the 2006 and 2009 estimate.

Also you mentioned that CAMSUR ranked third in the whole country in terms of total no. of poor families. How come you did not mention the 2nd and 1st in terms of the highest no. of poor families in the country ? In the NSCB report you are using as the basis to attack me, you failed to mention CEBU province as having the most no. of poor families which has an estimate of 213,162 and Negros Occidental, the 2nd most no of poor families in the country with 144,828. Based on your analogy and reasoning, are you also saying that CEBU and Negros Occidental are also one of the worst governed provinces and they are not spending their money wisely as what you accuse me of ! What about Pangasinan (4th) Nueva Ecija (5th) and Leyte (6th) as having the most no. of poor families too based on the report.

How come you did not mention them in your article? How come you just singled out Camarines Sur? Did you even bother to take time to think and analyze, that the above mentioned provinces as having the most no. of poor families are the biggest and most progressive provinces in their own region, that is why they have become the magnet in attracting poor families from other less progressive provinces in the region because of the opportunities they offer. Cebu is the biggest and most progressive province in Region 7 that’s why families from neighboring provinces within that region migrate to Cebu to look for work and opportunities.

The same is true for Negros Occidental. They are the biggest and most progressive province in region 6, CAMSUR obviously is the biggest and most progressive province in Region 5, Pangasinan in Region 1, Nueva Ecija Region 3 and Leyte in Region 8. Again as you mentioned that the share of poor families in Camsur has risen, in the same table and data you have used to put us in a bad light it said we had 3.3% in 2006 and the same figure of 3.3% in 2009.
Meaning no change, please be more objective in analyzing data before making any false judgments. Since you use raw data as a basis for your accusations. You should carefully study the margin of error of the data before you malign and attack people.

By the way if you are really not biased, you should have mentioned in the same NSCB report table 3 ,a glaring figure which you obviously overlooked , is the magnitude of poor families in Pampanga which more than doubled (222% from 2006 to 2009, from 1,756 to 3,895. The Governor of Pampanga from 2007-2010 is one of your co-convenors in your Kaya Natin Movement. How come you never mentioned the worsening poverty situation in Pampanga from 2007-2010.

COA Reports
You mentioned that anomalies found in official COA Reports in Camarines Sur. Again you are being judgmental. The COA report mentions observations not anomalies. When one of your co-convenors, former Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela, is accused of Malversation of Public funds ( http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20110309-324440/Ombudsman-eyes-malversation-case-vs-Aquino-ally-Padaca ) and the Ombudsman recommends a filing of a case , your automatic comment is she is being harassed. In our case, where there is a COA observation for some transactions but with no money lost to goverment nor graft and corruption proven. You scream big time that there are anomalies in Camsur.

To further convince you that you are wrong. Allow me to explain to you the COA observations/findings:

a.) Collections in the Sports Center (Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex – CWC ) were not turned over to the treasurer/cashier within the period stated under section 29 of the Manual on New Government Accounting System (NGAS) volume 1, thus exposing government funds to possible use, misuse or misappropriation.

If you read the observation it clearly stated that “collections in the CWC were not turned over within the period stated.” The mistake of the treasurer/cashier made was not to turn over the collection within the period which clearly shows that no money was lost. COA wanted to turn over collections before office hours end daily (5pm) whereas CWC operates and have sales until 12 midnight daily. This has been corrected and clearly NO money was lost, it was a procedural misunderstanding committed by the cashier not me and was already corrected. Employees who committed delays in remitting collections were given disciplinary actions and /or terminated.

b.) Cash advances to officers and employees amounting to P23.96 million remained unliquidated at the end of the year.

Kindly note that the total of P23.96 million were unliquidated cash advances from employees that were accumulated for more than 20 years. Cash advances that were made even before I was governor. What is important is we have filed cases to employees who have unliquidated cash advances and the amount have been reduced because of our firm action. For the record I have no unliqudated cash advances and as the Governor we acted through the filling of cases to employees involved.

c.) Donations amounting to P132.50 million were incurred for programs and activities undertaken by the Provincial Social and Services Office (PSSO) without approved program/activity designs and established criteria.

We contested this observation and approved programs/activity designs were provided as required. Again all the money was fully accounted and no anomaly and money lost to the government.

d.) The province paid P6.71 million for security services without public bidding, contrary to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 9184, thereby raising doubts on the propriety and economy of this transaction.

This has been contested and no anomaly occurred since no money was lost from the government.

e.) The province incurred and overdraft of P168 million as of December 31, 2009.
This was simply an accounting adjustment. No money lost. This was already corrected as of December 31, 3009. Again contrary to your false insinuation there was an anomaly committed.

Hopefully by now we have already enlightened you based on the facts, figures and explanations we have provided you.

We are fully committed in the case we filed against Sec. Robredo for being unconstitutional, we have proven to you that your allegations are wrong especially on your claim that local government organizations supported the actions of Sec. Robredo. Please don’t claim that both houses of congress support the DILG secretary. Why is he is not being submitted for confirmation in the commission on appointments before congress? Did you hear the complaints of congressmen and senators after the Luneta tragedy and the budget hearings towards Sec Robredo ? Or are you being deaf and blind again.

We are not afraid to show the general public how we govern, on the contrary we are very proud of our accomplishment. I am willing to face you or anybody anytime. I am willing to pay for your ticket and accommodations so you can visit CAMSUR and see for yourself what we do and what we have done in Camsur.

Public office is a Public Trust
Your co-convenors in the Kaya Natin Movement apparently did not uphold the public trust as all of them failed to be re-elected and lost in the 2010 elections. The voice of the people have spoken and you should respect their resounding statement Sec. Robredo himself have numerous Ombudsman cases. Pls also allow me to name a few Commission on Audit (COA) observations when Sec Robredo was still Mayor of Naga City:

1)Based on the state auditors report “Inventories and Property, Plant and Equipment accounts valued at P3,135,099.19 and P819,272,920.36, respectively could not be ascertained.This is such a big amount Mr Keh. What Can you say about this ?

2)The Accounting Office did not transfer the accumulated amount of P37,158,901.22 from General Fund (GF) to Special Education Fund (SEF), which pertains to the 1% share of the SEF in the Real Property Tax, contrary to Art. 363 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 7160. The deficiency resulted in the overstatement and at the same time understatement of the cash position of the GF and SEF, respectively as of December 31, 2007 by the same amount.

3)Cash advances amounting to P1,896,885.55 were granted without first settling or a proper accounting thereof was made of the previous cash advance, while cash advances totaling P8,168,269.61 were not liquidated within the prescribed period, contrary to Sections 4.1.2 and 5.1 of COA Circular No. 97-002, respectively. These defects created doubts on the validity and regularity of the grant and liquidation thereof.

4)Procurements of goods worth P50,000 and below falling under the condition set in Negotiated Procurement were undertaken using the shopping method contrary to Section 52 of RA 9184, and Sections 53 and 54 of Resolution No. 04-2006 amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations-A (IRR-A) of Republic Act No. 9184.

5)The City could have saved the entire amount of P6,133,049.52 representing interest expense had it self-financed the buy out of the PREMIUMED II loan balance to the Department of Finance instead of securing a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of P21,822,634.80.

6)The City was not able to provide adequate measures to protect the grants to NGOs/POs for CY 2007 amounting to P11,775,944.47 contrary to the provisions provided by COA Circular No. 96-003 dated February 27, 1996.

7)The 20% Local Development Fund (LDF) could have been appropriated and utilized for programs and projects that partake the nature of investment and capital expenditures that would directly generate jobs and livelihood opportunities for the constituents of the city, rather than for other expenses appropriately chargeable against Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), had the City Government adhered strictly to the general policies and guidelines on the appropriation and utilization of the 20% LDF.

Mr Keh, pls take note of the no. 7 COA observation, Sec Robredo now issues DILG memo circular 2010-138 reminding all LGU’s not to utilize the 20% LDF for administrative expenses, salaries and wages , whereas when he was mayor he violated this principle, thats why he was given the COA notice.

I hope finally the alleged champion of transparency and the Ramon Magsaysay awardee have been unmasked. Sec. Robredo owe it to the people what he is hiding all along? Sec. Robredo should explain why during his term as mayor, he spent hundreds of millions to build the Naga coloseum that was not completed for over a decade and up to now the people of Naga are paying for it. Sec Robredo has to explain to the people , why Naga city has the worst drainage system in the country? with only a small amount of rain, the city gets flooded.

Mr Keh, kaya mo ba to expose Sec. Robredo’s anomalies and lies? You owe it to the people .

Lastly, Kaya mo ba mag admit mali mga sinabi mo against me?

What are you hiding, Gov. LRay?

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Gov. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur

What are you hiding, Gov.  LRay?
by: Harvey S. Keh 

During his 18 years as mayor of Naga City, current Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo  was always known as a champion of transparency, accountability and people participation. One just has to visit their city’s official website to see that all financial transactions, biddings and purchases made by the city government are posted for the general public to see and scrutinize.

Aside from this, Robredo also institutionalized the formation of the Naga City People’s Council (NCPC), an organization composed of representatives from different NGOs, business groups and private organizations whose main task is to work with the local government to ensure that proper consultation is always done before major decisions are made.
These best practices in good governance has led to the transformation of Naga as the most progressive city in the Bicol region and has also garnered for the city more than 100 national and international awards. Robredo was also the first local government leader in the Philippines to receive the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service.
Thus, it was no wonder that during his first few months in office as DILG Secretary, Robredo made it a priority to issue a memorandum circular requiring all local government units to fully disclose their budget and how they are spending it to their constituents. Clearly, this initiative is in line with the campaign promise of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to curb graft and corruption through the promotion of transparency and public accountability.
As a show of support for this laudable initiative by the DILG to bring much needed reforms in our local government units, the House of Representatives and the Senate both approved the inclusion of this provision in the General Appropriations Act for the 2011 budget. 

Gov. LRay blocks transparency and full disclosure policy

While different national organizations such as the League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, League of Provinces and the Transparency and Accountability Network strongly supported and hailed this move by the DILG, one of Robredo’s long-time political rivals in Camarines Sur, Governor LRay Villafuerte, submitted a petition to the Supreme Court (SC) asking the SC to declare this memorandum as unconstitutional.

Is it unconstitutional to ask our government leaders to tell us how they are spending our hard-earned taxpayers’ money? According to Article 3, Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.” Wasn’t it no less than the Pres. Aquino who said during his inaugural speech that we are his Bosses? As our government leaders’ boss, I believe that we have the right to demand from them information about where they are spending public funds. For someone who is perceived by some as a dynamic young politician, I am surprised by this move by Gov. Villafuerte to question The DILG’s initiative that aims to make our public officials more accountable to ordinary Filipino citizens. 

Running for the Senate in 2013?

Is politics also in play here? As we all know, Gov. Villafuerte has been the governor of Camarines Sur since 2004 thus, this is his last term in office. Is this perhaps his way of trying to gain national exposure for a reported plan to run for the Senate in the 2013 elections?

Before he decides to run for the Senate, it might be good for him to first try to solve the growing poverty situation in his province. According to the latest poverty data presented just last February by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), poverty incidence in Camarines Sur has grown from 36.6% in 2006 to 38.7% in 2009. The province also ranked third among all provinces in the whole country in terms of the total number of poor families with more than 126,000 families! It is surprising that despite all the tourism buzz being generated about Camarines Sur, it still has the highest poverty incidence in the Bicol region.  Perhaps the money that tourism is generating for the province isn’t being used properly by the leaders of the province as can be seen by the Commission on Audit’s report (found below) on the finances of the Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex-CWC.

Anomalies found in official COA Report of Camarines Sur

A check on the official 2009 Commission of Audit (COA) Report on Camarines Sur’s financial statements would show several alleged anomalies. Allow me to quote some of these findings:

a.) Collections in the Sports Center (Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex-CWC) were not turned over to the treasurer/cashier within the period stated under Section 29 of the Manual on New Government Accounting System (NGAS), Volume 1, thus, exposing government funds to possible loss, misuse or misappropriation. Government funds were used in the development and construction of the CWC.

b.) Cash advances to officers and employees amounting to P 23.96 Million remained unliquidated at the end of the year thereby raising doubts on whether the purpose of these cash advances have been served.

c.) Donations amounting to P 132.50 Million were incurred for programs and activities undertaken by the Provincial Social and Services Office (PSSO) without approved program/activity designs and established criteria.

d.) The province paid P 6.71 Million for security services without public bidding, contrary to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 9184, thereby raising doubts on the propriety and economy of this transaction.

e.) The province incurred an overdraft of P 168 Million as of December 31,2009. An overdraft amount means an overspending by the local government that is beyond their total collected funds for the fiscal year. This finding is contrary to the claims of the local government of Camarines Sur that it continues to be profitable.

Are these alleged anomalies the reason why Gov. LRay Villafuerte is hell bent on stopping  the full disclosure policy that is being implemented by the DILG with the support of local government organizations as well as both houses of Congress? What is he hiding? If he is spending his public funds properly then why would he be afraid to show it to the general public?

Public office is a public trust thus, it is incumbent upon our government leaders to show to us how they are spending our public funds. All the things I have stated here aren’t based on hearsay but based on findings by the NSCB and COA. Please explain, Gov. LRay. You owe it to the Filipino people and most especially, your constituents in Camarines Sur.
Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

Mabuting Halimbawa

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo

Mabuting Halimbawa

ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante

http://abante.com.ph/issue/oct1210/op_hk.htm

Nagulat at nalungkot ako sa mga naging paratang ni DILG Usec. Rico Puno na si DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo raw at ang kanyang grupo ang isa sa mga nais magpatalsik sa kanya sa puwesto.
Halos araw-araw kaming nag-uusap ni Sec. Robredo at sa totoo lang ni minsan ay hindi niya binanggit sa akin na nais niyang mawala sa DILG si Puno.
Parati ngang sinasabi sa amin ni Robredo na nirerespeto niya si Puno at wala siyang nagiging problema sa pakikipagtrabaho sa kanya, kaya talagang nakakagulat na itinuturo ngayon ni Puno si Robredo na isa sa mga nais sumira sa kanya.
Wala ring katotohanan na si Robredo ang siyang nagsulsol kay Archbishop Oscar Cruz na ilaglag ang pangalan ni Puno patungkol sa jueteng payola.
Patunay rito ay noon ngang ibinunyag ni Cruz na may dalawang malapit kay Presidente Noynoy Aquino na tumatanggap ng jueteng payola ay kaagad na tumawag sa akin si Robredo at tinanong sa akin kung kilala ko kung sino ang dalawang ito.
Nakiusap pa sa akin si Robredo na kung pwede ay itanong ko sa mga malapit kay Cruz kung sino ang dalawang tinutukoy ng arsobispo.
Kung si Robredo nga ang nagbigay ng pangalan ni Puno kay Cruz, bakit naman kailangan pa niya akong utusan para saliksikin kung sino ang mga taong tinutukoy niya?
Naiintindihan ko naman si Puno na nais niya lamang linisin ang kanyang pangalan ngunit sana ay huwag naman sa paraang makakasira siya ng pangalan ng iba.
***
Naging maganda ang talakayan namin nitong nakaraang Biyernes sa Bgy. Loyola Heights, Quezon City patungkol sa unang 100 araw ni PNoy.
Iba’t ibang mga grupo ang dumating at naging maganda ang mga pagbibigay nila ng kanilang mga opinyon patungkol sa administrasyong Aquino.
Isa sa mga nagustuhan ko ay iyong binanggit ni Soc Banzuela ng grupong PAKISAMA kung saan sinabi niya na bilang kinatawan ng mga magsasaka, umaasa silang ibabahagi na ni PNoy ang Hacienda Luisita sa mga magsasaka.
Mahalaga kasi ito upang maipakita ni PNoy na seryoso siya sa repormang pang-agraryo sa ating bayan. Paano nga naman susunod ang ibang malalaking may-ari ng lupa sa ating bansa kung ang mismong pamilya ng Presidente ay ayaw namang sumunod sa batas?
Nakita na natin nitong nakaraang ilang buwan na noong huminto sa paggamit ng wangwang si PNoy ay huminto na rin ang iba pang mahilig sa wangwang.
Dapat ay patuloy na maging mabuting halimbawa si PNoy at siya na mismo ang mag-utos na ibahagi na ang Hacienda Luisita.
Huwag sana siyang magpadala sa mga impluwensya ng ilang nakapaligid sa kanya na pawang pansariling interes lamang ang iniisip.
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Jueteng lord for President?

October 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Jueteng lord for President?

By: Harvey S. Keh, The Manila Times

http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/28242-jueteng-lord-for-president

In his first few weeks in office, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd categorically stated that eradicating jueteng will be one of the least priorities of his administration. This statement raised many eyebrows particularly from the leaders of the Church and some of the political allies of Aquino in the Liberal Party such as former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca who lost in the last elections due to the billions of jueteng money which was used by their political opponents.
For a while Aquino probably thought that this issue would simply go away but just a few weeks ago, the growing problem of jueteng became a major test in his young administration after Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago both named DILG Usec. Rico Puno and former PNP Chief Jesus Versoza as protectors of jueteng lords. According to Cruz and Santiago, these two very close allies of Aquino who were receiving millions in protection money every week. Both have already denied any involvement in this illegal numbers game that continues to pervade our society most especially those belonging to the lower income strata. Yet, in a television interview, DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo mentioned that as early as the first week of August, he had already sent formal communications to Versoza and Puno telling them that there were already rumors linking both of them to jueteng and asking them to immediately resolve this issue before it gets out of hand. Did we see any action from Versoza and Puno? None. Why didn’t they do anything? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now, Aquino is left with a dilemma, while Puno is a very good friend and trusted ally, many are now calling on him to sack Puno not only due to these allegations of his involvement in jueteng but also because of his poor performance during the August 23 hostage crisis. The IIRC led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima clearly pointed out that Puno and Versoza were among those who were found to have been lacking in their response to the hostage crisis. Some quarters are complaining that while Aquino sacked former Pagasa Director Prisco Nilo just after one strike, Puno it seems will not be relieved even if he already has two strikes, major ones at that. If I were Puno, I would save my good friend from this burden by at least taking an indefinite leave of absence until the jueteng investigations and operations are already resolved.
An unsolicited advice to Aquino would be to move Puno to another less sensitive department if he wants to continue to hold on to his friend. I am not one to second guess the President on why he continues to trust Puno but unless he shows people that he can hold his friends accountable for their actions, many Filipinos will eventually end up disappointed with this present administration.

For those who continue to ask why jueteng should be considered a national security issue, one can only look at the experience of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada who was ousted from Malacañang due to allegations that he was on the take from jueteng lords. In the last elections, good and upright leaders like Panlilio and Padaca were both defeated due to the massive electoral fraud that happened in their provinces. These cheating machineries used by their opponents were funded by jueteng money thus, it was no longer surprising when Cruz revealed that current Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda and current Isabela Rep. Pol Dy were among those who are being tagged as jueteng lords in their areas. I am sure that Panlilio and Padaca’s experience wasn’t isolated, as I believe there were many other good and deserving leaders who also lost to their jueteng lord-supported opponents. These experiences clearly show us how jueteng can influence our politics and put leaders who are corrupt into power. Now it’s jueteng, soon it will be illegal drugs and prostitution. We have seen the experience of Mexico and Columbia wherein drug cartels are now so influential that they are able to elect government leaders even in the national level. If we don’t resolve this growing problem of jueteng soon, we might wake up one day having a jueteng lord as our next senator, vice president or even president. Is this the kind of society that we want our children to grow up in? I hope not.

Kumpiyansa pa rin kay PNoy

September 30, 2010 1 comment

President Aquino swears in Rico Escalona Puno as DILG undersecretary

Kumpiyansa pa rin kay PNoy

ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante

http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep2810/op_hk.htm

Isa ako sa milyun-milyong mga Pilipino na nagbigay tulong at suporta kay Presidente Noynoy Aquino noong nakaraang halalan. Sa totoo lang, dahil na rin sa aking mga isinulat na pabor kay Aquino rito sa aking kolum sa Abante, marami rin akong natanggap na hindi masyadong magandang mga mensahe mula sa kampo ng ibang kandidato. Tumulong ako kay Aquino at kay dating Senador Mar Roxas nang walang hinihinging kapalit o posisyon sa pamahalaan maliban na lamang sa nais nating lahat ng matuwid at maayos na gobyerno. Sa nakaraang 2 buwan niyang panunungkulan iba’t ibang problema na kaagad ang hinarap ni Aquino kagaya ng kaguluhan sa kanyang communications team, ang hostage crisis sa Quirino Grandstand at ang pagdawit sa kanyang malapit na kaibigang si DILG Usec. Rico Puno sa jueteng. Ilan sa aking mga kaibigan na bumoto kay Aquino ay unti-unti nang nawawalan ng tiwala sa kanyang pamumuno ngunit para sa akin, malaki pa rin ang aking kumpiyansang magtatagumpay ang pamahalaang Aquino at madadala niya ang ating bayan sa matuwid na daan.
Payo ko lamang kay Aquino ay dapat maging mas mapanuri siya sa mga inilalagay niyang tao sa kanyang pamahalaan. Hindi porke’t malapit na kaibigan at matagal mo nang kilala ay pwede mo na siyang bigyan ng isang posisyon kahit wala pa itong gaanong kaalaman at karanasan sa paghawak ng posisyong iyon. Si Puno na rin mismo ang umamin na kaya siya pumalpak sa kanyang trabaho nitong nakaraang hostage crisis ay dahil na rin wala siya masyadong kaalaman kung paano aaksyunan ang ganitong klaseng mga sitwasyon. Sa totoo lang, hindi ko naman kilala si Puno at sa tingin ko naman ay hangad lamang nito ang maglingkod ng tapat at tumulong sa kanyang kaibigan ngunit baka mas magandang maghanap ng posisyon sa ating pamahalaan na babagay sa mga kakayanan ni Puno.
Sana rin ay mas maging bukas sa payo at puna ang ating Pangulo lalung-lalo na kung ito ay nanggaga­ling na sa kanyang mga kakampi at mga tagasuporta. Baka kasi iniisip ni Aquino kung ikaw ay panig sa kanya, dapat ay tanggapin na lamang ang lahat ng kanyang gagawin at huwag nang umangal dito. Ayon nga sa kila lang professor sa UP na si Mareng Winnie Monsod ay mayroong dalawang klase ng pamumuna, ang pamumuna na nais matulungan ang pinupuna at ang pamumuna na nais sirain ang pinupuna. Sa tingin ko dapat makita ni Aquino na ang kanyang mga kakampi na nagbibigay ng kanilang komento sa kanya ay nagnanais lamang na mas ma ging mabuti at magaling siyang pinuno at hindi para ibagsak siya. Pakiusap ko lamang sa ating lahat na sana ay bigyan pa natin ng sapat na panahong patunayan ni Aquino ang kanyang kakayahang mamuno sa ating lahat.

Masyado pang maaga upang husgahan na natin siya bilang isang mahinang pinuno sapagkat sa totoo lang ay hindi madali ang kanyang tatahaking landas dahil na rin sa dami ng minanang mga problema mula sa nakaraang administrasyon. Patuloy nating ipagdasal si Aquino at ang ating pamahalaan na bigyan sila ng ating Panginoon ng lakas ng loob upang patuloy na maglingkod ng tapat sa ating bayan.
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Moving On

September 24, 2010 3 comments

 

Former PNP Chief Jesus Versoza

 

 

Moving On

by: Harvey S. Keh, T

he Manila Times

 

 

http://manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/26771–moving-on

It’s been a month now since the August 23 hostage fiasco at the Quirino Grandstand. Much time, effort and energy from our government leaders and their respective agencies have been exhausted these past weeks to ensure that a thorough investigation on the matter is conducted. Last Friday, the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), tasked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to spearhead the investigation into this sad incident, has already finished its report and has officially recommended that administrative and/or criminal charges be filed against 13 police officers, government officials and media personalities. Hopefully, Aquino will be able to quickly act on these recommendations so that our country can finally move on from this tragic incident. The sooner we move on, the better for all of us since there are so many problems that the present administration currently faces. These problems include the continuing growth in poverty, the lack of good job opportunities here in the Philippines and the declining state of public health.

Aside from filing the necessary charges and punishing those who failed to fulfill their duties, a thorough investigation should also be done in terms of the rampant graft and corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP). Necessary charges have to be filed against police officials who are found to have used their power and position to enrich themselves. As Vince Lazatin of the Transparency and Accountability Network so aptly explained, corruption isn’t just stealing funds from government, but it is using one’s public office for private gain. I cringe at the thought of Aquino giving former PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa another position in the government, since all of us have seen how inept he was in handling the hostage crisis. For those who don’t know yet, Verzosa left Manila at 3 p.m., in the middle of the hostage crisis, to go to Cagayan de Oro. I dare ask Verzosa what could be more important in Cagayan de Oro that he would need to leave the scene of a hostage crisis with huge international implications to our country? It is no wonder that the PNP continues to be ill-prepared for situations such as these because it is run by leaders who cop out when the going gets tough.

I believe that there are still many ordinary police officers who continue to render good and ethical public service to the Filipino people, but as DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo correctly pointed out in the IIRC hearings, these police officers are often sent out to crime situations without the necessary training and equipment. This was clearly seen in the last hostage crisis, where we saw members of the Manila Police District SWAT team assaulting the tourist bus without the necessary bullet-proof vests and explosive devices that would’ve helped in defusing the situation. I heard a report that if you check the budget and expenses of the PNP, you would see that they would rather put millions of pesos into renovating and improving their swimming pool rather than buying the necessary equipment needed by the police force. The admirable courage and bravery shown by many of our policemen can only get them so far if they are not given proper training and equipment. 

We should also ask these police officials, especially Verzosa, how come jueteng has continued to thrive during his time as PNP chief. It took another big revelation for Archbishop Oscar Cruz to force the PNP to get its act together and try its darnest best to curb jueteng all over the country. As early as the first week of August, Robredo, a noted anti-jueteng advocate, already wrote a formal letter to Verzosa and DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Rico E. Puno, asking them to immediately address this problem; but after more than a month, nothing has happened. Why is that? Does this mean that Verzosa and Puno are also on the take in this illegal numbers game? Your guess is as good as mine.