TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Several barangay captains appeared in a regular session of the Cagayan Provincial Board and claimed funds allotted supposedly for barangay aid were taken by Agkaikaisa Cagayan, a barangay empowerment organization founded by Governor Manuel Mamba.
Liga ng mga Barangay-Enrile President and ex-officio Councilor Lazaro Maggay spoke before board members during their mobile session at the town and said they feel bypassed by purok leaders of the organization.
Maggay said they would prefer to implement the barangay aid funds on their own instead of involvement of Agkaykaysa Cagayan purok leaders.
“Kami pa rin po sana ang masunod na barangay officials…Kung sa amin lang po, gusto namin kami na lang wala [nang] purok leader. Mas magulo,” Maggay said.
Maggay was allowed to speak by request of Board Member Karen Kaye Turingan, an Enrile native, and several board members under suspended rules.
The captains in attendance said this has caused “confusion” instead of help.
The board claimed to have received reports from other barangay officials downstream that there was already a “checklist” of proposed projects by some purok leaders. They added that some purok leaders are also asking honoraria from the 200,000 soft project allocation of the barangay funds.
The captains also said the barangay aid “awarding ceremony” they attended was merely for photo ops for the provincial government.
In the SP’s final version of the budget, following an override of Mamba’s line veto, the task of downgrading P500,000 financial assistance to barangays originally under Mamba’s “Development Assistance to Barangays” was moved to barangay officials’ duty under “Aid to Component Barangays.”
SP said this move merely followed the local government code in order to prevent the budget from being declared “inoperative.”
Further, in a budget deliberation in a session last year, then-POPE Head Ruelie Rapsing told board members the Agkaikaisa group will only assist development assistance to barangays. He also said only the Bayanihan Tools will be placed under the care of purok leaders.
To several barangay captains in Cagayan, however, majority of board members claimed, purok leaders have entirely taken responsibility of dispersing the P200,000 financial assistance for barangay soft projects – programs they would later on liquidate.
The board also questioned why they were seemingly pressured to approve the 2018 budget when the governor has yet to download the 2017 aid to barangay funds.
“Granting that we approve for example now or as long as December. The intention of not distributing is there. Hindi pa po dinidistribute yung 500,000 per barangay as well as the 3 million pesos [per municipality],” Vargas said in session on Wednesday, March 21.
In an interview with Bombo Radyo, Governor Manuel Mamba on Wednesday, March 21, defended the Agkaikaisa and referred to them as “guards” of the provincial government.
“Ibibigay pero kami mag-iimplement. Paano mo maibibigay kung wala kang guwardya? Ano yung sabi ni presidente? 40% of barangay officials are involved in drugs. Ayoko yung basta magtiwala [sa barangay],” he said.
Mamba also said the barangay government must first liquidate their expenses for the P200,000 financial assistance from the administration of then-Governor Alvaro Antonio.
“Nagrerelease pa lang kami ng 200,000. Hindi naman kaagad agad yan…Maghintay lang sila. Yang pera na yan hindi mawawala. They have to liquidate everything para unti-utni naman nating ibigay sa kanila yung mga promises natin,” Mamba said.
“They will prove it to us that they are worthy implementing agencies of the programs, projects, of our government. Sila mag-implement eh sila mag identify sila magpropose, but magwuardyahan natin,” he added.
Yet, the SP is unconvinced the Agkaikaisa is just a helping tool of the provincial government, alleging them as mere “political machineries” of Mamba.
Vice Governor Vargas said barangay officials told them in the Liga ng mga Barangay general assembly in Clark, Pampanga they were reportedly asked to sign a joint resolution with Agkaikaisa purok leaders over the disbursement and implementation of the funds. Northernforum.net