By Joey Natividad
LAGONOY, Camarines Sur (BicolToday.com/25-June-2012) – Municipal councilors here expressed concern that the recent town festival held April 24 until May 1, this year, might have incurred lavish, and possibly unlawful, expenses owing to the visit by showbiz personalities Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales, and other imported TV personalities from Manila.
This concern was aired by Lagonoy town councilors after queries to check on festival expenses were not entertained by the office of Mayor Delfin Pilapil, the municipal accounting and budget offices.
During the Samhod Festival, last week of April, showbiz personalities Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales and some TV comedians were invited by Mayor Pilapil and son Gerald JJ Pilapil, head of the town tourism council, to appear in some important events in the festival celebration. Councilors here could not confirm if the showbiz personalities were given talent fees, or not.
“If they were given talent fees, we want to know how much were given to them since these money come from public funds,” said a councilor, who preferred to be unnamed. “During the fiesta celebration, we know the 2012 budget was not yet released, and we have been wondering on how the Mayor’s office justified the spending when we are restricted by laws to limit essential expenditures only, if the town annual budget is not yet approved.”
Last year, the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the Local Government of Lagonoy, specifically Mayor Pilapil, for spending P1,394,750.00 (one million three hundred ninety-four thousand and seven hundred fifty pesos) for various expenses in connection with the celebration of 2011 Samhod Festival despite of the failure of the town council to enact on time an ordinance authorizing the annual budget for Calendar Year 2011.
Six (6) councilors here are concerned that the lavish expenses last year without an approved budget on that time, might be doubled or tripled on this year’s celebration of the Samhod Festival. “We fear that the fiesta expenses last April might have been doubled, or tripled, over the visit here by the showbiz personalities from Manila,” said a councilor.
“We know that during this year’s festival celebration, the 2012 budget was not yet approved. Festival expenditures do not fall under any of those allowed expenses enumerated in Section 323 of the Local Government Code of 1991. Such expenses are clear violation of this provision of the law,” said the councilor.
The councilor said the periodic COA audit report will be conducted near the end of the year, and that data on expenses are being withhold from the scrutiny of the councilors.
Despite the extravagant expenses, Lagonoy’s local revenue collection amounts only to less than Php 4 million a year, and the town relies heavily on the national government allocation (IRA) of Php 82 million a year. [BicolToday.com]
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