Dagupan gets budget for 3rd-class municipality
SP MAJORITY SABOTAGES CITY HALL
MARCH 28 was considered the saddest day in Dagupan’s history when the majority in the Sangguniang Panlungsod asserted its supremacy over the minority in amending the proposed resolution approving the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) as well as all its integral plans and a proposed ordinance approving an annual city budget for 2023 at a level that can only be viable to a third class municipality.
The AIP was slashed from P2.188 billion to P1.169 billion in the amended resolution while the original proposed P1.3 trillion annual budget was slashed to P864.94 million, an amount much lower than the reenacted budget of P1.38 billion approved in 2022.
In both amended measures introduced by the majority, the minority bloc composed by Fernandez, Councilors Jeslito Seen, Dennis Canto, Marcelino Fernandez and Joshua Bugayong, interposed their objections.
In moving for an AIP that was reduced by more than P1 billion, Councilor Redford Erfe-Mejia maintained that the reduction was effected after the committee determined from department heads that the additional amounts included in the document were still not downloaded to the Dagupan City government.
Mayor Fernandez clarified to newsmen that those excluded from the AIP were national government projects, not cash that Erfe-Mejia mistakenly assumed, promised by senators, congressmen and other high government officials to the city, i.e. a brand new ambulance promised to Dagupan by Fourth District Rep. Christopher de Venecia.
Erfe-Mejia also justified the cutting of the annual budget by more than half ostensibly because of the failure of Mayor Fernandez to submit the documents required by his committee.
“Yong sinasabi nila na kami ay nagkamali sa entry tungkol sa 20 percent development fund Hindi kami ang nagkamali, Si Erfe-Mejia ang nagkamali, dahil isinama niya sa computation yong share from PCSO, miscellaneous income at e-Vat sa National Tax Allotment,” Fernandez said.
Calling the budget passed by the majority bloc as anti-poor, Fernandez said the big slash on the budget dealt a severe blow to Dagupan since there were no budget for wages of 791 Job Order Employees and Emergency Workers, lifeguards at Tondaligan Beach, EWs at Tondaligan and dumpsite and the streets, garbage collectors, POSO traffic enforcers and doctors and nurses hired as consultants of the Diagnostic Center and sports consultant and music consultants.
There will also be no allowance to be paid to Barangay Health Workers, Barangay Service Point Officers, Barangay Nutrition Scholars, and Civilian Volunteer Organization. Definitely, there is no budget for 2,500 scholars of the city.
Among the documents Erfe-Mejia required was the list of Job Order Employees and consultants, a request that Mayor Fernandez rejected in two committee hearings because it was not required by the Local Government Code and the guidelines promulgated by the Department of Budget and Management for the passage and approval of the budget.
In a separate interview, Councilor and Minority Floor Leader Fernandez attested that the mayor already submitted all the documents required by the local budget memorandum and in Budget Operations Manual for the passage of the budget by the SP.
Other documents required by Erfe-Mejia to be submitted to his committee that Mayor Fernandez considered as irrelevant to the passage of the annual budget were:
- List of persons with disability throughout the city; 2. A letter to him of the chief of the City Population Office requesting for 20 additional Barangay Service Point Officers;
- A list of national government projects that will be implemented in Dagupan. (It could not be provided by the city treasurer’s office since the projects were still not downloaded);
- The operational budget. (This was stated this year and in other budget proposals).
- Operational expenses of the task forces. (These could not be given as these task forces were under various department and officers and these were drawn from their respective department’s budgets); 6.The list of JOEs in the office of the City Administrator;
- State of Calamity in 2022. (Mayor Fernandez never declared a state of calamity in the city from July to December 2023). 8. Lists of vehicles assigned to each office and heavy equipment assigned to mayor’s office. (The list was already to COA);
- List of projects in 2022, including their respective contractors. (The mayor said it was already submitted to COA); 10: List of supplies and suppliers. (Also already submitted to COA);
There were more documents requested, it was learned.
Fernandez charged that all these requirements were Erfe-Mejia’s personal impositions to justify the delay and eventual refusal of the majority block to act on the proposed annual budget. (Leonardo Micua)
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