MANILA - A former official under the administration of ex-Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada denied Thursday that city hall pocketed millions of pesos in bribes from illegal vendors while leaving massive debt for the next administration.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno claimed earlier this week that previous administrations may have pocketed bribes from illegal vendors, whose operations he was allegedly asked to protect in exchange for P5 million per day.
"It's unbelievable, if not outright incredible," former Manila city hall administrator Ericson Alcovendaz said of Moreno's accusation.
Vendors, he told ANC, find it difficult to pay the hawker's fee of 20 pesos a day. "So how they can possibly raise P5 million a day?"
"Kung mayroon mang bribe dito katulad n'yan (if there are indeed bribes like that)... I don't think it will reach city hall. It stops there in the barangay... It's good that he would talk to the barangay people, he could talk to the police officers so that would really put an end to this," he said.
Moreno also said the city government owes P214 million to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Alcovendaz said the Estrada administration had contested GSIS' claim of unpaid contributions for city hall employees. "As far as our records are concerned, we are up to date in the remittance of the contributions of our employees," he said.
"It's not uncommon that you hear from other government agencies, with all due respect to the GSIS, that the GSIS is not up to date with the posting of the contributions of government employees," he added
The Estrada administration also left P10 billion "available for the disbursement of the city", contrary to reports that it left a debt of P14 billion, said Alcovendaz.
Moreno on Wednesday said the Estrada administration spent P2.9 billion on commercial contracts in its last month before leaving office.
These transactions "are all legitimate and regular expenses of the government," and the procurement process started as early as last year, Alcovendaz said.
"Hindi ho it naisip namin na dahil aalis na kami e bibili kami ng mga gamit... Medyo malisyoso nga ho iyung pahayag n'ya (Moreno)," he said.
(We didn't think that we'd buy things because we're leaving office. His remark is a bit malicious.)