QC gov't slams Defensor: No overpricing; full transparency a must in all purchases

The Quezon City chief legal officer on Wednesday, Sept. 15 slammed Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor for allegedly launching a “politically motivated smear campaign” against the city government by feeding the media with canard and other misleading information about its aid program for pandemic-hit city residents.

Food distribution in Quezon City

At the same time, lawyer Orlando Paolo Casimiro assured QC residents full transparency in all city government procurements, adding that all financial transactions were aboveboard and done in strict observance of all government rules and regulations.

In fact, Casimiro said, the Commission on Audit (COA) acknowledged Mayor Joy Belmonte’s excellent housekeeping record when the audit agency gave her administration a record “highest audit score” in its 2020 Annual Audit Report.

The city attorney chided Defensor for allegedly falsely claiming overpricing in the procurement of the P287,475,000 worth of food packs distributed to residents who have absorbed the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Defensor has issued a series of press statements on his allegations but each time, the city government swiftly respond to belie them.

“It is quite ironic that Congressman Mike Defensor is now citing a so-called "splitting violation" as a new angle to the failed allegations he made two weeks ago. After trying to drum this up in the media and even presenting this in Congress, it is now clear that no overpricing took place,” said Casimiro in a press statement.

“As accepted by the Commission on Audit (COA), the prices of grocery items and commodities always increase during December, particularly in the first year of the pandemic when stocks were difficult to obtain,” he said.

Casimiro noted that in his most recent press release, Defensor accused the city government of splitting purchases for the same good.

“Needless to say, the only "split" happening here appears to be the Congressman's politically-motivated smear campaign, wherein he is splitting the same issue in order to gain more media mileage and airtime,” Casimiro charged.

He pointed out that splitting did not happen since the two transactions “were funded from distinct sources.” “These projects have completely different identified recipients, and even cover different time periods. Matagal na po si Cong. Mike sa public service, I'm sure alam naman po niya itong regulasyon na ito. (Cong. Mike has long been in public service, I’m sure he is aware of this regulation)," said Casimiro.

“Whenever Cong. Defensor weighs in on supposed COA violations, perhaps he should always be reminded that the current QC administration obtained the highest audit score that the city has ever achieved throughout its history,” he said.

Casimiro stated: “Moreover, the good Congressman should also bear in mind that his "undated documents obtained by insiders" is a tacit admission that these documents were stolen. There is no need for that, sir, since QC practices full transparency in all its transactions.”