The Liloan Municipal Government purchased “207 pieces of lechon totaling P1.357 million for team buildings, religious activities, founding anniversaries of private groups, graduation exercises, general assemblies, get-togethers, among others” that were deemed “irregular and unnecessary” by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Government auditors said some of the purchases violated the prohibition on the spending of government funds for “religious or private purposes.” Auditors reported that Liloan Mayor Aljew Frasco already prohibited the granting of all future requests for lechons for any activity or gathering. 

We asked Mayor Frasco for a comment on the COA findings through his protocol officer and was told that he will give his side tomorrow.

The lechon purchases were among the key findings by government auditors in the 2022 annual audit report of the town’s finances released recently by COA.

Other key findings by COA include:

  • The printing of “names or images of the previous and present top leadership of the Municipality” on envelopes used in the distribution of cash assistance under the town’s various programs. Auditors say this is contrary to COA and DILG circulars. Liloan officials agreed to stop the practice.
  • Liloan did not properly observe the posting requirements for infrastructure projects undertaken by the town. Auditors also pointed out that some signages included faces of politicians, which they say violate government regulations. Mayor Frasco said these signage were not paid for by the town but “courtesy gifts by the contractors who undertook the construction project.” The required signage have been put up and Frasco said he reminded contractors not to install signage with names and photos of politicians.
  • Liloan “proceeded with the conduct of Purok Capability Development and Sustainable Cebu Program Review and Benchmarking activities even prior to the completion of the procurement process.” COA said this is contrary to regulations and casts “doubt if the most advantageous price is obtained.” Liloan’s Bids and Awards Committee assured auditors “that no government funds (were) wasted and the project being questioned has been fully accomplished, implemented and delivered to the Municipality.”
  • Cash assistance totaling P3.4 million “remained unutilized and idle (by) yearend, thus, defeating the purpose for which these funds were granted.” Auditors said Liloan “agreed to prepare a proposed program of activities and to request approval or consent from the source agencies to reprogram these funds.”
  • Cash advances totaling P512 thousand remained unliquidated by December 31, 2022. Frasco told auditors they are “vigorously resorted to and (are) still continuously exhausting all possible remedies to collect and demand liquidation.”
  • The Municipality hired consultants without undergoing “the procurement process on ‘Highly Technical Consultants’ and was not supported with complete documentation.” Mayor Frasco told auditors that the consultants have been told to submit the requirements.
  • The hiring of 318 job order workers “was not supported with Job Order Contract or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) detailing the scope, terms, function and job description.” Auditors also said that “86 of these Job Order personnel rendered overtime despite the lack of authority to render such.” COA said Mayor Frasco already ordered paperwork to address this finding. The town’s human resource office also ordered offices to produce the required overtime authority.

COA said in its report that the lechon purchases deprived “the constituents of projects or services that could have been derived from the use of the said funds.”

Auditors also pointed out that Section 335 of R.A. No. 7160 or the Local Government Code “provides that no public money or property shall be appropriated or applied for religious or private purposes.”

COA said some of the lechon were purchased for “Pastoral Parish Council and other religious groups such as the Knights of Columbus for their events, team buildings, get together, induction, oathtaking, thanksgiving and assemblies.”

Some of the biggest lechon purchases were:

a) P100,500 for 14 lechons.  on October 3, 2022 for “all 14 Barangays of the municipality (no specific purpose indicated).”

b) P48,000 for 8 lechons on transaction date of February 7, 2022 for “For Semeon Ayuda Elem Christmas Light Up.”

c) P45,500 for 7 lechons on October 3, 2022 “For Liloan National High School, Simeon Ayuda Elementary School, Cotcot BHWs, and Brgy. Poblacion Capability Building;  and Simeon Ayuda Elementary School Moving Up and Graduation Ceremony.”

d) P45,500 for 7 lechon on September 12, 2022 “For San Fernando Rey Parish, Barangay Council, Midwife and BNS of San Vicente Team Building & Barrio Fiesta Knights of Columbus Get Together.”

Some of lechons were bought for organizations such as the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc. for their Annual Cebu Provincial 23rd Founding Anniversary, Semeon Ayuda PTA for capability building, Knights of Columbus, among others.

Mayor Frasco told auditors that Liloan did not buy the lechons but “simply made a cash donation for cultural activity.” He said it was the recipients who decided to buy lechon “in consonance with the Filipino tradition of highlighting any gathering with (roast pig).”

Auditors, however, contested this, saying “the disbursement vouchers and its supporting documents (show) it was the Municipality’s BAC who procured these lechons.”

Auditors said Mayor Frasco has already instructed offices at the Municipal Hall “to prohibit the granting of any request for lechon in any activity or gathering.”

Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering Cebu City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since...