SP Minority slams strange invitation to Mayor Belen

By January 22, 2023Top Stories


CAN a city mayor be required to attend a public committee hearing of the committee on finance, budget and appropriations to respond to questions on the proposed 2023?

This question arose after Councilor Redford Erfe-Mejia sent an invitation to Mayor Belen Fernandez urging her to attend the committee hearing on the 2023 budget, an unprecedented situation that was promptly blocked by Councilor and Minority Floor Leader Michael Fernandez.

Fernandez in a PUNCH interview said the intent of the invitation not only defied inter-courtesy between executive and legislature but “is strange, unusual and without any precedence.”
“A committee (of the SP) never invites local chief executives. A department head is normally invited because the purpose of that hearing is only to hear the operations of the offices,” he added..

At the January 17 session of the SP, Erfe-Mejia stressed that the committee hearing will not welcome any representative, he considers the mayor “as head of the executive department and, therefore, she can shed light on the proposed budget of her office and other matters.”

Fernandez said committee hearings of the Sanggunian in the past never invited a mayor to attend because of the well-established inter-courtesy between the executive and the legislature.

“The only time the city mayor is invited by the entire council, as provided in the  local government code, is to deliver the State of the City Address for an opportunity to outline programs and projects for the year and to provide direction for legislation,” he said.

“There is no law that requires the mayor to personally attend a committee hearing field questions on expenditures of each department,” the minority leader said.

Councilor Fernandez added he found the wordings of the letter of invitation of Erfe-Mejia to the mayor strange which states: “Re the annual budget. As part of the committees function to discuss and thoroughly study all matters directly and principally relating to the expenditures of the city government, including of public indebtedness, claims against the government appropriations and adjustments of funds, and in general, all monetary and fiscal matters, including to those relating to revenue, taxes, licenses, fees, liens, and other sources and forms of revenue, we highly encourage you to attend and provide required pertinent documents that maybe asked by the committee relevant to the said  proceeding.”

He said the topics Erfe-Mejia raised for discussion with mayor are completely irrelevant to the discussions required pertaining to budgets for operations of departments in the city government.
Fernandez said the January 16  Local Development Council meeting would have been the proper venue for his questions on plans and policies during the open forum, and Erfe-Mejia  sent his representative  in  that  meeting but did not raise any of the issues the councillor  stated in his invitation letter from his committee.

The LDC meeting was witnessed by DIG Provincial Director Virgilio Velasco. (Leonardo Micua)

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