No receipt for food

CEBU City Hall’s P5.2-million payment to a catering company for food served during the October 2010 elections is pending with the City Accounting Office and the City Treasurer’s Office because it lacks supporting documents.
City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete said the Commission on Audit (COA) already called the City Government’s attention to transactions with Cebu Red Carpet Catering Services, Inc., that is why the City is making sure all requirements are complete before any payment is made.
Among the lacking documents is an acknowledgment receipt from the offices or individuals who received the meals during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October 2010, or any proof that the meals were delivered and accepted.
For Mayor Michael Rama, the civil case filed by Red Carpet is a welcome development, so the court can determine whether or not there is reason to pay the caterer.
“Ako silang gistoryahan na kung magsige ta ug huwat diri sa Siyudad na ang dokumento buhatan, unya ang gusto magdoktor-doktor, dili na mao… The best forum is the court… I wish the judge will see the merit and somewhere he can be of assistance because if the mayor decides on this, it might appear suspicious,” Rama said.
He assured that the City will pay if the court orders the City to do so.
Red Carpet was contracted by the City in 2010 to provide meals to government employees and officials who served in the barangay and SK elections that year.
Now that the case is in court, both the City and the caterer will be given a chance to present evidence that the food items were delivered, he added.
Rama said he doesn’t doubt that Red Carpet supplied the food for city officials and employees, police, teachers and personnel of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who served in the October 2010 elections.
“Everyone knows there was an election, everyone knows there were people who served and they were given food,” he continued.
In its 2010 audit report, state auditors noted that a similar purchase for the May 2010 election was excessive and violated several audit rules, including the absence of a public bidding.
It also did not have supporting documents that would justify the payment, such as the acknowledgement receipt, and the City did not request for an inspection of the items delivered by COA.
COA also questioned why the purchase of food was done through an “emergency purchase,” when an election does not constitute an emergency. Every election is scheduled on a specific date, state auditors pointed out.
A city official who requested anonymity said the COA findings for the earlier purchase prompted the City Accounting Office to withhold payment for the P5.2-million bill until all requirements are complied with.
“The COA questioned the transaction on the purchase of food for the May 2010 elections but the lacking documents for the purchase of food for both elections are the same, that is why the payment could not be processed,” the source said.
The auditors found it excessive that participants of a voters’ education campaign would be served several food items—pizza, fried chicken, lasagna and juice—during a one-hour activity.
For Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district), the non-payment of the City’s obligation to Red Carpet is proof of Rama’s mismanagement of City Hall.
“I’m not surprised at all. It’s a comedy of errors, everybody is screwing up. It’s plain and simple mismanagement because Mike Rama does not make management decisions, he only makes political decisions to accommodate people,” the former mayor said.

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