The use of red plate government vehicles for unofficial purposes depends on the “judgment call” of the barangay captains who sign the trip ticket, a councilor said.
Still, Cebu City Councilor Michael Ralota, Association of Barangay Councils president, said he wanted to meet with barangay captains to discuss the Commission on Audit’s findings of “misuse of barangay vehicles.”
Ralota, who is also T. Padilla barangay captain, said he would invite concerned agencies like COA to the meeting.
“If we come up with guidelines on vehicle use, we have to make the guidelines together with other government agencies,” he said.
Government auditors sent the city government an Audit Observation Memorandum citing the misuse of barangay vehicles and the need to come up with guidelines for their use.
They asked the city to suspend gasoline subsidies for barangay vehicles unless a review of their use is conducted.
A review of the December 2010 trip tickets of 22 barangays showed that vehicles were used to ferry barangay officials and residents to beach outings, Christmas parties and churches to hear Mass.
Councilor Sisinio Andales, former barangay captain of Pahina Central, said he used to grant poor constituents free use of their barangay vehicles.
The COA memorandum listed 24 vehicles assigned to 22 Cebu City barangays and their fuel consumption in unofficial trips in December 2010.
The Mitsubishi Canter assigned to barangay Luz consumed a total of 227 liters of fuel for 14 unofficials trips.
The Tamaraw FX of barangay Tisa was used on Dec. 2, 2010, by barangay captain Tita Cabulao to go to the San Nicolas Catholic Cemetery in Calamba to light a candle.
Councilor Eddie Cabulao used the same vehicles on Dec. 10, 2010, to go to the basilica to hear Mass.
The Cabulaos also used the barangay’s Tamaraw FX on Dec. 29, 2010, to hear Mass at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of the Rule in Lapu Lapu City.
“The use of government transportation by the spouses, children, relatives, friends, etc., of the officials entitled thereto is included in the prohibition even if they are in the company of said officials,” COA said.
Some vehicles were used even in the absence of duly accomplished trip tickets.
“This grossly violated COA Circular No. 77-61,” the COA memorandum said.
Ralota said he considers official the use of barangay vehicles in these trips as a form of service to constituents.
“But if COA says we have to come up with guidelines on proper vehicle use, then we will come up with guidelines,” he said.
Ralota said the barangay T. Padilla council passed an ordinance to fix the rate for the use of buses and other barangay vehicles.
They charge P750 for trips to Lapu-Lapu City beach resorts. Of the amount, P500 is spent on gasoline while P250 is paid to the driver.
Ralota said that trips to farther destinations are charged at least P1, 000. /By Doris C. Bongcac, Chief Of Reporters