By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent
The new young politicians that toppled the long-time dynasties of the Estradas in Manila and San Juan and the Eusebios in Pasig in the last elections were dismayed to find in their first days in office that their predecessors left them with mountains of debt.
Mayor Francisco Domagoso (a.k.a Isko Moreno) won the mayoral race over Joseph “Erap” Estrada along with a PHP4.394-billion debt the Commission on Audit (COA) said Estrada left behind.
In San Juan, the debts of Estrada’s mistress Guia Gomez added up to PHP1 billion, according to Mayor Francis Zamora.
No accounting was yet done in Pasig but its city mayor of 27 years Robert Eusebio left his successor Vico Sotto an empty office. Sotto said the mayor’s office was stripped of computers and other equipment, the same stunt pulled by losing mayor Tomas Osmena.
A COA review of Manila’s financial records showed that the city owed some PHP9.047 billion to different groups and agencies, though it only had available cash amounting to PHP5.36 billion. This left the city short on cash by about PHP3.686 billion.
State auditors also flagged the inclusion of PHP2.877 billion in “other deferred credits,” which represented income received in advance or “not yet earned during the year under review.” This amount was included in the city’s payables.
Aside from this, the financial records also showed the city had insufficient cash due to the failure to record some PHP345.9 million in cash disbursed, borrowing PHP95.408 million from unimplemented projects, borrowing PHP18.512 million from the city’s development fund savings, and spending some PHP247.146 million in intra-agency accounts. All in all, this would leave the city owing some PHP4.394 billion.
State auditors said that, with the lack of funds, the city government’s efforts “would result (in) the continuous sourcing from the revenue collections of the succeeding budget years to fully settle the existing payables/trust liabilities for the current and prior years.”
This means that it could see a bigger deficit in coming years as it would need to get money from its income to pay off its debt.
Moreno’s aides also said there has been no word from Estrada if he will turn over government documents such as contracts of pending projects and list of personnel.
The ceremonial turn-over of documents was supposed to happen on June 28 but the event did not happen, Moreno said. For this, the Department of Interior and Local Government said Estrada might be charged administratively for failing to ensure a smooth transition to his successor.
In San Juan, Zamora said the administration of Gomez spent more than what was mandated by law. “Sa kasamaang-palad halos isang bilyon po ang iniwang pagkakautang ng nakaraang administrasyon sa ating lahat,” he said during the flag ceremony.
Zamora said the past administration borrowed over PHP700 million for the construction of the city hall. “Of the total amount spent for the new City Hall, PHP43 million was spent for furniture and fixtures,” he said. For the construction cost, it was bided out for PHP520 million.
“Ang variation order ay P167 million. Ito ay lampas sa pinayagan na 10 percent lamang ng bided amount, na dapat ay P52 million lamang,” he said.
Zamora, who won his seat over Estrada’s granddaughter Janella, said around PHP500 million was spent for the San Juan Medical Center. “Ang total principal loan amount para sa San Juan Medical Center at City Hall ay mahigit PHP1.2 billion. As of June 30, ang outstanding loan balance ay mahigit PHP659 million,” he said.
Zamora said the amount was the principal only and if the PHP200 million interest was added, the city has a total debt of almost PHP1 billion.
Gomez claimed she left the city no debts and in fact gave a PHP1-billion check to Zamora during the turn-over ceremonies. But Zamora said the PHP1.3 billion was for payment of bided projects of the past administration.
In Pasig, Sotto had to place orders first for desks, equipment and appliances before starting work as city mayor. “Wala pa kaming mga gamit. Wala pa kaming computers so please bear with us,” Sotto told guests at his inaugural.