FACT CHECK: Davao’s confidential funds were never used for its underground cabling projects

Nov. 11, 2023
davaotoday.com file photo

CLAIM: Davao City’s confidential expenses since 2016 have been used for underground cabling projects.

A post on X, formerly known as Twitter, claimed that the Php 2.6 billion confidential funds of Davao City were spent on the city’s underground cabling project.

Zen Nepomuceno, with the username @KUglyuton, posted on his account last September 30 defending the confidential funds during Vice President Sara Duterte’s term as city mayor from 2016 to 2022. Nepomuceno implied that the city’s underground cabling of telecom and electric wires was sourced from the city’s confidential funds.

“Underground cabling in San Pedro St. was an achievement of VP Sara Duterte. Rappler did post the CIF of Davao City during the previous administration. It’s obviously an attack on the VP. The question is, do you think it will materialize? Performance is the best way to counter this. Ask the Davaoeños how the father and daughter have transformed the largest city into one of the country’s safest cities.”

Nepomuceno’s X account describes himself as “Center-Right, Anti-Commie, Pro-Government” and has 2,670 followers.



A look into the city government’s website will show that the underground cable project in Davao City was an initiative by the late councilor Leonardo Avila, Jr. through Ordinance No. 177, series of 2014.

The cabling project was intended to clear the messy overhead wires over the Sangguniang Panlungsod and City Hall on San Pedro and Pichon (formerly Magallanes) Streets.

The ordinance also indicated in Section 7 that the private electric utility companies and telecom companies would shoulder the expenses.

“Section 7. Costs – The cost for placing underground the electronic and telecommunication wires and cables including the restoration of the excavated streets/sidewalks shall be jointly shared among the electric utility companies and public communication carriers as determined in the integrated design/plan as formulated by the Wires and Cables Technical Team.”

Currently, Davao LGU has expanded the underground cabling project into five phases. Two of these have been completed with C.M Recto Street (formerly known as Claveria) in the first phase, and San Pedro Street in the second phase. The third phase is currently underway, covering Magsaysay Avenue.

The budget for this infrastructure project has been transparently stated in an article by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in 2023, which reported that the first phase costs 217 million pesos.

There has been no connection made between the project and the confidential funds that have been the subject of scrutiny by the public and opposition lawmakers.

Furthermore, such an act will be in violation of Joint Circular 2015-01 by the Commission on Audit, Department of Budget, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense and Governance Commission for GOCCs which stated clearly the guidelines on the use of confidential funds, which is solely intended for surveillance activities, very far from the speculated expenses for an LGU’s infrastructure projects.

“The utilization of such funds is generally confidential and classified by nature, which requires not only strong internal controls in the release and utilization thereof but also strict accounting and auditing rules to prevent mishandling or improper application of the funds,” the joint circular reads.

Rappler first ran the story that the Davao City Government had accumulated Php 2.6 billion in confidential funds under Sara Duterte’s term as mayor from 2016 to 2022.

Davao Today also ran a story on the Davaoeños’ reaction to this issue.

READ: Where was the ayuda? Davaoeños react to Sara’s P2.9B confidential funds

Davao Today is part of #FactsFirstPH which brings together various sectors that are committed to promoting truth in the public space, and exacting accountability on those who harm it with lies. For those interested to join the initiative, email info@factsfirst.ph.

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