MANILA (UPDATED)-- No irregularities were cited in a Commission on Audit (COA) report on Taguig City that is being used against the Cayetanos, a city councilor said Thursday.
Councilor Darwin Icay, spokesman for city government, said the COA report on Taguig City dated December 21, 2012 never said that the 3,188 job orders (JOs) for personnel were ghost employees.
"The COA did not invalidate the hiring of JOs, it being a 'lawful prerogative' of the City of Taguig. They are not ghost employees. They are flesh-and-blood persons rendering vital social services to the city's constituents. The COA itself acknowledged that the amount spent for the JO personnel allowed the city 'to augment the present workforce,'" Icay said in a statement.
He said the case filed against Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano and the 16 councilors was nothing more than a diversion on the investigation of the Senate into the P2-billion corruption case involving a Makati parking building.
He said the complaint was filed on the day of the Senate hearing on the Makati building.
Icay added that the convenors of the group against the Cayetanos, lawyers Rod Vera and Fhilip Sawali, are both law school partners of Rep. Abby Binay and were allegedly used by the Binays against Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in the past.
The councilor said the city, under the leadership of Cayetanos, has been winning awards and has been cited by the World Bank for being the most business-friendly city in Metro Manila.
The said COA report stated, in exact terms: "Verification disclosed that the personnel in the above-mentioned programs were actually assigned/deployed to different Offices in the absence or lack of regular personnel performing regular functions/services."
Icay said the COA report even noted the employees went through biometric daily time records, and manual time records were provided for employees who did not use biometrics.
"It is worth mentioning that the biometric machine readings of daily time records were the basis of the HRMO in the preparation of payrolls for these personnel. For those not using the biometric machine, the manual time records are the basis of payroll preparation," the report read.
There was also no mention of the city's failure to regularize employees, nor did it say that the contractualization was done to circumvent security of tenure and giving of benefits.
Icay said COA, in its report, only made recommendations to the city.
"Management justified that job order services are needed to implement and facilitate its various programs though, the City is now considering the revision of the existing plantilla positions to address the said concern. However, it will entail a lot of time due to Civil Service requirements and procedures," it said.
Icay also defended the city for its purchase of ambulances and emergency response vehicles, after a separate graft complaint was also filed against the senator, his wife Lani, and 16 city councilors for the alleged purchase of 18 overpriced multicabs worth over P8 million, or roughly half a million pesos each.
“The City of Taguig made a smart investment in these new ambulances and emergency response vehicles – they will help. Contrary to Mayor Binay's claim, these vehicles were not refurbished. We’re making a lot of smart investments to build for the future, including free education, medicine for our seniors and families, and creating jobs," Icay said.
Icay added that COA itself had no questions on the purchase of 18 brand new mini-ambulances and firetrucks in the city of Taguig, a project funded by Senator Cayetano's priority development assistance funds (PDAF).
“We're proud of these efforts to offer free education, quality health care, and create jobs in Taguig - and in large part, this work was made possible by our efforts to reduce corruption. That’s one of our core values in Taguig - pag bawal ang corrupt, bigay todo ang biyaya. We’ll address any questions from the Binay front group, and hope that they are honest with the Filipino people about their connections to Binay, and their agenda," Icay said.
"The Binay camp is free to check the figures released by the COA in their reports. Instead, they distort these facts and figures to mislead the public and destroy the reputation of the Cayetanos," Icay added.