Cebu City SK execs continue trip without DILG blessing

Posted on April 30, 2011


By Fatrick Tabada, Correspondent
THEY’RE not supposed to go, according to the Department of Interior and Local Governments in Central Visayas (DILG-7).

But 30 Sangguniang Kabataan Federation (SKF) officials in Cebu City will still leave for Baguio City at past 4 a.m for a youth summer camp today.

They insisted on attending the five-day camp at the City of Pines despite a warning from the DILG-7 that their trip may be questioned and disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Regional DILG-7 Director Pedro Noval Jr. said Cebu City SK delegates to the five-day Youth for Environment Summer (YES) camp will spend P15,000, way above the P2,000 daily travel expenses allowed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

A DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-59 issued by Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo last April 25 also warns elected officials from holding trainings, seminars, workshops and other similar activities outside of their area.

“Their trip may be disallowed by the COA,” Noval said.

Cebu City SK Federation president John Philip Po said their Baguio City travel is not covered by Robredo's DILG circular.

Po, an ex-officio member of the City Council, said the DILG prohibition only covers local government-initiated activities that elected officials stage in venues located outside of their jurisdiction.

Excessive use

Participation in out-of-town activities is another thing, said Po.

“In the memorandum it says that we (local officials) are not allowed to conduct out-of-town seminars but it does not prohibit us from participating,” he told Cebu Daily News.

The 30 SK presidents and councilors from various Cebu City barangays led by Po were scheduled to attend the YES Camp organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

They are expected to leave for Manila on a Cebu Pacific flight scheduled at 4:30 a.m. today.

Po said participating SK presidents and councilors were each asked to prepare P15,000 in travel expenses to be charged to their barangay's SK funds.

Po said the P15,000 will cover their registration fee of P5,500, which includes their accommodation, meals, T-shirts and training kits.

The remaining P9,500 will go to their travel expenses including airfare.

The YES camp held at the Teachers Camp and the CAP John Hay Cultural and Trade Center include team building activities and discussions on environmental laws and leadership, youth response to climate change and Philipine disaster assessment.

Noval told Cebu Daily News that the trip taken by the SK presidents lacked a DILG permit.

John Castañeda, director of the DILG national barangay operations office, also warned YES participants against the excessive use of government funds for their travel.

A DILG memo circular No. 2010-139 states that “any in-country convention, seminar or training attended by a local government official or employee, with the use of public funds, falls within the purview of the Capability Development Agenda of the participating LGU.”

Robredo’s DILG circular No. 2011-59 prohibits the conduct of LGU-funded trainings, seminars, workshops and other similar activities outside of the locality.

“This practice impacts on the ability of a local government to finance desirable development programs or projects and, thereby, delimiting actions to bring about the constitutional mandate to provide quality of life for all,” the circular stated.

Exempted by the memo are activities cited in “the website of the Galing Pook Foundation and the Local Government Academy” of the DILG.

Also exempted are initiatives “which have a high replicability potential in the local government concerned.”

Noval said the Cebu City SK travel ran counter to Robredo's DILG circular.

The SK presidents also haven't secured a travel permit from the DILG-7 office, which is a requirement for any elected official before traveling outside of their jurisdiction.

Just an estimate

Po said he believed the YES camp was among the accredited activities by DILG since it was organized by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the DENR.

He said the Baguio City trip was “educational and useful” for the city's SK officials.

Since not all barangays could afford to shoulder P15,000 per participant, only 30 of the city's 80 barangays sent their SK representatives to join the YES camp.

Po clarified that participants may not spend all of the P15, 000 they prepared for their travel.

Aware of the DBM policy that only allows a P2,000 daily budget for travel, Po said they may spend less than their P15,000 travel cost estimate. “It will still be liquidated and it is just an estimate,” he said.

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