2016 appropriation questioned: City to operate using 2015 annual budget

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/RHM (The Freeman) - January 4, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City Government will operate on a reenacted budget after acting mayor Edgardo Labella refused to act on the 2016 Annual Budget, citing defects in the number of votes during the passage of the budget ordinance.

During his press conference yesterday, Labella said the City Council has 90 days from the beginning of the fiscal year to act on the budget ordinance in question.

Section 323 of Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) states that “in case the sanggunian concerned fails to pass the ordinance authorizing the annual appropriations at the beginning of the ensuing fiscal year, it shall continue to hold sessions, without additional remuneration for its members, until such ordinance is approved, and no other business may be taken up during such sessions.”

“If the sanggunian still fails to enact such ordinance after 90 days from the beginning of the fiscal year, the ordinance authorizing the appropriations of the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the ordinance authorizing the proposed appropriations is passed for salaries and wages of existing positions, statutory and contractual obligations, and essential operating expenses authorized in the annual and supplemental budgets for the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted and disbursement of funds shall be in accordance therewith,” it added.

City Administrator Lucelle Mercado said the Local Finance Committee will examine the 2015 Annual Budget appropriations that will be utilized pending the City Council’s resolution on the budget ordinance.

In his December 29 letter addressed to acting vice mayor Nestor Archival Sr., Labella cited Article 107 paragraph (g) of the Internal Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code of 1991 that provides that “no ordinance or resolution passed by the sanggunian in a regular or special session duly called for the purpose shall be valid unless approved by a majority of the members present, there being a quorum. Any ordinance or resolution authorizing or directing the payment of money or creating liability, shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all the sanggunian members for its passage.”

In a 9-3 vote during a special session, the City Council passed last December 18 a P6.4-billion annual budget for 2016, which is lower by P7 billion compared to P13.4 billion appropriated for 2015.

Majority bloc members who passed the budget ordinance were Councilors Margarita Osmeña, Alvin Dizon, Alvin Arcilla, Eugenio Gabuya, Ma. Nida Cabrera, Sisinio Andales, Mary Ann de los Santos, Roberto Cabarrubias, and Lea Japson. Minority members who voted against the approval of the ordinance were Councilors Gerardo Carillo, Noel Eleuterio Wenceslao, and Phillip Zafra.

Councilor David Tumulak was out during the deliberation while Councilors James Anthony Cuenco, Richard Osmeña, and Hanz Abella were absent.

Labella said since there are 18 members of the City Council, including him, who have been elected and qualified as members, the budget ordinance should have been passed by an affirmative vote of at least 10 members.

With only nine votes recorded in the passage of the budget ordinance, Labella said it “regrettably failed to meet the required number of votes.” (FREEMAN)


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