Unpaid bills of the Cebu provincial government reach nearly P1 billion to date.
Acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale yesterday showed various bills to reporters, saying the Capitol would have to pay the obligations on a staggered basis since the General Fund as of January is only P90 million.
Magpale said the Capitol owes P900,969,789.48 to about 40 companies and institutions as of today.
An inventory of payables is still ongoing as some vouchers are still in the possession of different offices.
The list includes billings from contractors, construction suppliers, food caterers, hotels, and vehicle suppliers.
With the magnitude of the bills, with more still being discovered, the possibility arose that some obligations would have to wait for the next governor to be elected in May and take office in July 1.
Disclosure of these figures caused suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to challenge Magpale anew to a debate on the Capitol's financial status.
Garcia said it only showed the acting governor's "elementary knowledge" of the Capitol's finances.
The bills were shown in a press conference yesterday with assistant provincial treasurer Emmanuel Guial and Provincial Board Member Peter John Calderon.
“We didn't fabricate the figures. We culled them from the records. You are free to come and check the documents that would support our claim,” said Magpale, who has vowed to do her duties as acting governor with “transparency and accountability.”
Based on the list, most of the payables arise from the province's road projects worth P480.4 million and building projects worth P92.4 million (see list).
The billings are from contractors for mostly road asphalting projects and school buildings.
Calderon told Cebu Daily News their next step is to ask for a status report from the Provincial Engineering Office on the completion of these road and building projects.
Magpale said the list of payables was based primarily on billings of privae companies and institutions.
She said the province will prioritize payments on a staggered basis since the available funds in the General Fund was only P90 million,.
“We didn't solicit the amounts that the province owe to these companies. They came forward. Are we telling a lie here when we have the documents to prove them?,” she said.
“I really do not know how to pay these payables. Maybe, any Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) won't be enough to settle the amount,” she added.
Cebu province receives P133 million a month as IRA or its share of national taxes released by the national government.
About 20 percent has to be set aside by law for the Development Fund and another standby amount for the calamity fund.
The monthly payroll of provincial employees and officials requires about P45 million.
Governor Garcia criticized Magpale for disclosing the report, saying it only exposed the acting governor's "elementary knowledge" of the Capitol's fiscal position.
She again challenged Magpale, saying the acting governor can set the date while the venue will have to be the Capitol.
But Magpale is not keen on accepting the challenge.
“What is there to debate? Here are the documents. What is there to prove?” she said.
Asst. Treasurer Manny Guial said it would take time to settle the payables of the province.
Guial said the Office of the Provincial Treasurer had issued certificates that there are available funds. However, he said there was actually not enough funds for all of the bills.
PB Member Arleigh Sitoy said politics is not involved in the revelation of the payables.
“We are not playing politics here. We're just cleaning up a mess. It's not easy to be confronted with this kind of problem,” he said.
Sitoy cited as an example Sugbo TV's expenses that went up early last year when Garcia declared her candidacy for the Senate.
Magpale said she shouldn't be blamed for giving only P500,000 to the Sinulog Foundation Inc..
Last year, Governor Garcia approved a P3 million financial assistance to the SFI.
“You see we have payables of over P900 million. Don't you think we have to tighten our belt?,” Magpale said.
Garcia said several infrastructure projects are in various stages of completion.
"If we just talk about projects awarded, programs that have been signed and now consider them as due and demandable, again that will expose her ignorance," she said. Garcia said the province spent P6 billion on infrastructure projects.
"We did not pay that in just the first day.... they are paid upon completion and upon presentation of the proper documents," she said.
The suspended governor said Magpale and her political allies continue to look for ways to put her in a bad light.
"I can teach her how to run a province because obviously she shows such incompetence in the past three days," Garcia added. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter with Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus