On Rizal Park issue: Realigning P9M is technical malversation – City Hall

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Realigning the P9.45 million budget for any other purpose is technical malversation, a press release from the Bacolod City PIO said.

City officials led by Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia unveiled the rehabilitation project of the Bacolod Rizal Park. | Photo from Bacolod City PIO

The budget allocated for the rehabilitation and improvement of the Bacolod Rizal Park had already been appropriated last year by national government.

The funding for the park’s rehab was part the P2.5 billion Local Government Support Fund-Assistance to Cities appropriated by Congress for the 2019 national budget. The funds serve as financial assistance to all cities nation-wide for the construction, rehabilitation, repair or improvement of public open spaces, the press release added.

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The allocation for Bacolod Rizal Park, unveiled during the commemoration of Jose Rizal’s birthday last 19 June, drew flak over social media, with some netizens questioning the wisdom of spending funds for the rehab when a supposedly more urgent concern – the pandemic – also needs funding.

Other netizens also suggested realigning the funds to curb the spread of the virus instead.

However, City Hall said, the process of realigning it is not that simple.

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“The Bacolod LGU CANNOT re-align the P9,454,107.33 to other purposes,” the press release said, adding that since the funds are part of the 2019 national budget, any re-alignment of appropriated items can be done only by Congress, not the local Sangguniang Panlungsod.

City officials could also be held liable for technical malversation if city decides to spend government funds for purposes other than what they were appropriated for.

Furthermore, the Department of Budget and Management has given cities until 31 December to fully utilize the funds otherwise these will be forfeited and be reverted back to the national treasury.

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Rehabilitating the park also has its benefits, the press release added. For starters, it will provide “a fitting foreground to the Rizal Elementary School, which has been declared years ago by the National Historical Commission as a Historical Site being the oldest school in Negros Occidental with its founding in 1907”.

The project will install a children’s playground next to the Rizal Elementary School, thus, providing its students with a recreational facility. Furthermore, will also feature an outdoor fitness area.

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