Richard Gomez says no anomalies on in-kind donations for Ormoc

By Zaldy De Layola

June 13, 2023, 3:29 pm

<p>Leyte 4th District Rep. Richard Gomez <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Leyte 4th District Rep. Richard Gomez (File photo)

MANILA – Leyte 4th District Rep. Richard Gomez on Tuesday branded as malicious a “news report” insinuating irregularities in the transactions involving in-kind donations received by Ormoc City from various groups.

Gomez said recent news reports on the allegedly “missing” in-kind donations to Ormoc City are part of an Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) released by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“What does it mean? An AOM is an audit finding that a local government unit (LGU) or any office or agency being audited has to explain, if so required by the COA. It cannot be considered as irregular if a comment has been submitted and no adverse conclusion is made,” Gomez said in a statement.

“In the first place, there could not have been any adverse conclusion because nothing irregular really happened,” he added.

He said the fact that the city government posted the donations on its official social media platforms “is in keeping with our being transparent and accountable to the public.”

“The malicious news reports insinuating irregularities in these transactions is not only an affront to the donors of these in-kind relief assistance but the city government of Ormoc, which was simply looking out for the welfare of the people of Leyte,” Gomez said.

According to the news report, COA checked the status of the donations with the Ormoc City government “because it appeared that after these were turned over, as shown on social media posts, the donations were never seen again.”

The COA found no records to show where these donations went after they were handed over.

The Commission’s audit team reported missing the following:
--200 sacks of rice (25 kgs per sack) and 150 boxes of 1L bottled water from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) on January 12, 2022;
--12 tablets (brand not disclosed) from the National Housing Authority (NHA), January 2022;
--46 wheelchairs from PITMASTER Foundation (Providing Indigent Timely Medical Assistance Service and Targeted Emergency Relief), March 2022;
--3 sets of weighing scales from Ajinomoto, August 2022;
--1,000 white T-shirts from Panda City Merchandise Inc. owner James Sy, February 2022; and
-- trash bins from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region 8, March 2022.

“Query with the Accounting Office revealed that it was not aware of the in-kind donations received by the City as posted on Facebook, thus, no accounting entries were made for its recognition and neither distribution sheets on file with their office,” the COA report read.

After queries, the City General Services Office (CGSO) told COA that it did not receive the 200 sacks of rice and bottled water intended for victims of Typhoon Odette.

The CGSO said the donations were handed over to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO).

Gomez, who was then the mayor of Ormoc City, said that “for transparency, my administration has always tapped local non-government organizations (NGOs) to receive donations given to Ormoc City.”

“These donations are not inputted in the city’s records because the city did not spend for these donations. The only role of the city government is to facilitate the transfer of the donations,” he added.

In the COA report, it was explained that “during exit conference, management clarified that the relief goods received by the City Government of Ormoc from NGCP as posted on the Facebook page were not actually intended for the city and were just passed for stocking in the city bodega.”

“The CDRRMO clarified that the relief goods were merely placed there but immediately transported to Southern Leyte, since that place was determined to be more gravely devastated by the typhoon,” auditors said.

In the social media post about the rice donations, Ormoc City said these were “NGCP’s way to further provide assistance to the City Government of Ormoc in the relief operations.” (PNA)