Cebu News

Rama to LFC members: Don’t meet councilors

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/FPL - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has barred the members of the Local Finance Committee from meeting with the councilors to discuss how to resolve the budget standoff that is affecting the productivity enhancement incentives of the employees and the garbage tipping fees.

Rama said the members of the City Council have decided already when it rejected the proposed resolution of Councilor Gerardo Carillo to continue the discussion of the P2.8 billion supplemental budget-1 and to proceed with its approval.

Rama said he will not allow the members of the Local Finance Committee to meet with the members of the City Council, saying he already knows that the City Council would dictate the executive department on the identification of the sources of fund.

“Who is the mayor now? She should be asking me, what I should tell them to do. That is what she should do. Dili kay tudluan ang local finance. That’s not correct. Very wrong,” Rama said, obviously referring to Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña.

The City Council on Wednesday deferred the discussion of the supplemental budget in deference to the pending case in court seeking to preserve the proceeds in the sale of the SRP lot until the questions on the legality of the sale shall have been resolved.

In a vote of 9-7, the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan-dominated City Council “killed” the resolution of Carillo to open the discussion of the supplemental budget.

Councilor Sisinio Andales said the members of the City Council should apply “judicial courtesy” since there is a pending case filed against the members of the City Council.

The civil case, filed by Romulo Torres, asked the court to stop the city government from using the proceeds of the sale of 45.2-hectare property at the SRP. The city government has already collected a partial amount of P8.5 billion representing half of the total sale.

Lawyer Janeses Ponce, executive assistant of the mayor, said the City Council cannot invoke the principle of judicial courtesy.

“The principle of judicial courtesy is base on the hierarchy of courts and applies only to lower courts in highly exceptional cases wherein the lower court, by its discretion, chooses to suspend its proceedings in deference to the proceedings of a higher court on practical and ethical considerations. He said since the city council is not part of the judiciary, there are no legal or sensible grounds for them not to continue with the budget deliberations,” he said.

The executive department cited the SRP money as its sole source of fund to finance the P2.8 billion Supplemental Budget-1 this year, which includes the  P77 million PEI of city employees, P87 million garbage tipping fee, and P2.3 billion prepayment of the SRP loan.

Rama said the City Council would just approve or disapprove the supplemental budget, and not defer.

He said the complaint filed against the members of the City Council is not a “real threat.”

The threat, he said is holding hostage the basic services that are due to the people.

“They (City Council) have abused their numbers. When they have abused the numbers and that people are prejudiced, in effect, people can rise. In effect anyone can take that as an advocacy,” Rama said.

The City Council, in a resolution proposed by Osmeña, suggested to use the P1.1 billion continuing appropriations from previous years as source of fund for SB-1 so that there would be an immediate release of the “urgent and necessary” items under the additional budget.

However, City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas said that the continuing appropriation is not an actual fund. She said the SRP money is the only actual fund that the city government has, as of now.

Osmeña said the executive department has already executed and used the continuing appropriations to fund the supplemental budget, adding that the P300 million drainage project was realigned for the reconstruction of the Cebu City Medical Center.

Osmeña questioned Rama’s prohibiting the members of the local finance committee from meeting the councilors.

 “Why is he now dictating the members of the Local Finance Committee on what to do? Are they not public officials?” Osmeña asked.

Osmeña said they are just looking for alternative to resolve the issue, pending the resolution of the court because the SRP money which is used to fund the additional budget is in question.

Not a rally, but a people’s day

Meanwhile, Rama clarified that the protest action held by City Hall employees on Wednesday was not a rally, but more on a “taxpayer’s day or people’s day.”

“Dili man to rally. Advocacy man to. Nangabot raman ang mga tao didto. People went there because of the cause,” he said.

He said he would not abandon the employees who joined the event since they made a stand.

Rama said he wish no one would file a complaint against these employees because they are protected by the constitutional provision which is the right to assemble, especially when the City Council “abuses” its number in passing measures.

Proline Daclan, public assistance division chief of the Civil Service Commission-7, said she has not received the full information as to the activity conducted by the City Hall employees and some officials.

However, Daclan said CSC has issued a resolution no. 02-1316 or the Prohibited Mass Actions.

“The rules on prohibited concerted mass action provide that government officials and employees are not allowed to go on concerted mass action during office hours,” she said.  (FREEMAN)














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