NO PORK BARREL FOR COUNCILORS
WHILE bracing herself to run the city government with a reenacted budget after the members the Sanggunian Panlungsod failed to approve the proposed 2015 budget, Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez said she is still hopeful the councilors will be moved to approve it early next month.
She told newsmen that those that will be directly affected by a reenacted budget will be the 650 job order employees or emergency workers and consultants who will be laid off and said she hopes the councilors realize that in time.
The SP is already on recess since Dec. 17 and the mayor is no longer considering to call a special session because she doubts the councilors would be willing to break their recess at this time.
“Sana, isipin ng ating mga councilors ang kapakanan ng ating mga JOEs at consultants and approve the budget as early as the first week of next year,” Fernandez said.
Another wasted opportunity, she said, was the failure of the SP to approve a proposed ordinance authorizing the Dagupan Island Tours to charge its passengers and fixing the rate of fare thereof. The island Tour was launched by Fernandez last December 22 as additional tourist attraction in Dagupan.
The local media have noted the indifference of majority of the SP members to the various legislative proposals of city hall one of these is the budget for the construction of an additional docking area for the Island Tours in Pugaro Island.
She said the Dagupan Island Tours, using three platform boats donated to the city by the private sector, is the city’s all year round tourist activity that can earn revenues for the city and provide additional livelihood for city residents.
PUNCH sources revealed that the councilors have refused to act on the budget until items granting financial assistance for the councilors’ individual projects were included in the proposed budget, a request the mayor said she could not grant because the law already expressly prohibits disbursement of financial assistance to lawmakers, private groups and individuals whose activities do not directly relate to programmed activities of the government.
The councilors refused to respond to questions posed by The PUNCH on the issue.
Other requests for appropriation that were sidelined by the councilors were the P1.5 million for the construction of a new social hygiene building at Herrero-Perez; P500,000 for the construction of an open court at the Bonuan Boquig Elementary School.
Other pending requests submitted to the city council are the budget for two units of fire trucks to augment the fire fighting capability of the Dagupan City Fire Station; a resolution authorizing the city mayor to look for and negotiate for the purchase of a lot intended as site for a housing project for city government employees; an ordinance authorizing the city mayor to negotiate and purchase a lot to be made as site of the proposed Dagupan Fish Port to be built by the national government; and an ordinance enacting the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of the city for 2015 to 2025, submitted to the SP on Oct. 10.
The councilors are reportedly asking for P1.8 million in financial assistance for each of them, a practice that was adopted by the previous Lim administration but subsequently disallowed by the Commission on Audit.
COA has already informed recipients of financial grants from the Lim administration to liquidate the funds they received or return them if the activities cannot be considered as legitimate activities.
COA said the city officials and the recipients of the financial assistance stand to be charged before the Ombudsman for violation of the country’s anti-corruption law.
The councilors’ requested financial assistance is akin to the pork barrel of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel that was already declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The mayor said the local government units are now limited to granting financial assistance only to hospitalization and medicines for the indigents. (Leonardo Micua)
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