SP majority: No reason to okay Supplemental Budget No. 1

By January 9, 2023Headlines


DESPITE five hearings attended by six officials from the executive department and three others, the seven-man majority in the Dagupan Sangguniang Panlungsod submitted a report justifying their rejection of Supplemental Budget No. 1, a proposed ordinance (No. 0-817) that was certified as urgent by Mayor Belen Fernandez.

The committee report, signed only by members of the majority, cited basically the non-cooperation of the mayor’s office in responding to the queries of the Finance, Budget and Appropriations committee as reason for the funding measures’ rejection.

It was submitted to the SP secretariat at 4:03 p.m. on December 29, or at the end of the  special session called by Mayor Fernandez purposely to approve the Supplemental Budget No. 3, and, therefore, did not give the minority members a chance to react to the report.

In that special session, Minority Floor Leader Michael Fernandez also reiterated his call for the passage of draft Ordinance No. 0817 but this was rejected outright by the seven-man majority, voting 7-4.

When City Secretary Ryan Ravanzo was asked by Councilor Dennis Canto to read the claimed submitted committee report, Ravanzo said he could not because he had not been given the report.

The report of the committee on finance, budget and appropriations headed by Councilor Redford Erfe-Mejia claimed it invited key personnel and heads of the pertinent departments of the executive branch of the city government to attend the committee hearings to respond to queries particularly about the Scholarship Committee, but these were not heeded.

The claim is belied by facts of committee hearings that acknowledged the appearances of City Legal Officer Aurora Valle, OIC Treasurer Randolph Ubando, Budget Officer Jessa Rayopa, Accountant Rosario Catugas, OIC City Engineer Josephine Corpuz, Human Resources Officer Lana Balolong and her representatives, Planning and Development Coordinator James Fernandez and even Councilor Marcelino Fernandez, Dr. Aurora Samson Reyna, Director Danilo Bose of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) in Region 1, all members of the scholarship committee in the October 25, November 8, November 22, November 2 and December 15 committee hearings.

Then, the committee report argued that the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Scholarship Ordinance, which would operationalize the disbursement of the funds and stipends for the scholars was submitted only on December 25, 2022.

The minority said the timing of submission suddenly became relevant when the past administration that the majority belonged to never submitted an IRR.

The report further added that the list of scholars who will be paid under the additional outlay was not completed then cited “inevitable sustainability of the P200-M scholarship fund considering inflation and other market mechanisms” and claiming the lack of cooperation of the mayor, as the chairperson  of the scholarship committee, or the Vice Mayor, as the vice chair, leaving many issues “unresolved”.

The committee report also cited the conflict in the city government’s claims that while the city government adopted austerity measures on one hand because of low revenue collection, the Supplemental budget No.1 is asking for cash that cannot be provided because of lack of funds.

It also cited the admission of the President of the Liga ng mga Barangay during one committee hearing that the P25 Million aid to the barangays will be allotted to only 25 barangays in the city.

Lastly, the committee report said that due to absence of “valid and sufficient answers supplied by the Office of the City Mayor on all the inquiries, ”the committee cannot fully and favorably act on Supplemental Budget No. 01, F.Y. 2022 “in the absence of full justification on the part of the Local Chief Executive that the same is necessary and urgent.”

The committee report was signed by Councilors Redford Erfe-Mejia, Alipio Serafin Fernandez, vice chairman, and Librada Reyna Macalanda, Maria Lourdez Fernandez, Alvin Coquia, Celia Lim and Victoria Czarinna Lim. (Leonardo Micua)

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