GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The head of the City Agriculturist’s Office (CAO) appears to have disregarded an invitation from the city council to address concerns regarding the alleged irregularities in the distribution of a P100 million aid earmarked for those severely impacted by El Niño in the city.

City Councilor Froebel Kan Balleque extended the initial invitation to CAO department head Merlinda Donasco, seeking clarification on the selection process for aid beneficiaries.

This move came in response to mounting complaints alleging improprieties in beneficiary selection, with suspicions of favoritism.

During the city council’s latest regular session, Balleque noted Donasco’s absence, attributing it to the disapproval of the City Mayor’s Office.

“In the list of our invitees, we have Ms. Merlinda Donasco of the City Agri. But let it be put on record that there is no one from City Agri who is around now, because I was informed that they were not given authority by the City Mayor’s Office,” said Balleque.

In response, GenSan City Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao vehemently refuted claims of her office obstructing Donasco’s appearance before the city council.

Pacquiao clarified that the CAO was responsible for compiling the list of eligible beneficiaries for the P10,000 aid package provided by the national government.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. personally visited the city and presided over the distribution of said financial aid to 10,000 beneficiaries at the Lagao Gymnasium on May 10 this year.