JVR, Soc clash on trimmed budget
Garry B. Lao (The Freeman) - January 13, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – Three days after Talisay City's slashed budget for 2015 was passed, the debate has now extended outside the fine halls of the council's session hall.

Mayor Johnny De los Reyes and former mayor and now Councilor Socrates Fernandez figured in a verbal tussle over the controversial budget cut in front of City Hall employees and constituents who were set to celebrate Talisay's 14th Charter Day anniversary yesterday.

How it started

The exchange of words developed after a mass held at the City Hall grounds where Fernandez, the last municipal mayor before Talisay was converted into a city, spoke before employees on the city's journey to cityhood.

Fernandez went to narrate that it was then former representative Eduardo Gullas who authored the law creating Talisay City in December 2000.

Fernandez, in his speech, then transitioned into the council's slashing of De los Reyes' original P1.081 billion proposed budget to P539.941 million.

After the speech of Fernandez, the flag-raising ceremony followed.

JVR hit back

In his Charter Day message, De los Reyes responded to Fernandez by criticizing the lawmaker and his allies in the council for trimming down his budget.

The mayor labeled those who slashed his budget as "anti-poor," claiming his budget has been used well to help the city's poor constituents. He added that he even entertains those who come to his house after work hours to ask for help.

"Ang tawo kung maipit na gani sa problema, manulis na sila, makahimo na sila og krimen. Mao nga moadto sa among balay kay mangayo og tabang, akong hatagan gikan na sa akong I.F. (intelligence fund). Tan-awa ninyo nga nimenos ang krimen sa syudad. Ang akong IF gihatag na nako sa mga pobre," De los Reyes said.

For this year, the council cut down the mayor's intelligence fund from P10 million to P100,000.

In his speech, De los Reyes also lambasted the council for spreading what he said were "lies" when he was accused of having no project in his two-year stint at the City Hall.

The mayor said his opponents are "blind" to appreciate his projects like road concreting in different barangays, providing vehicles to departments and barangays, and drainage, among others.

Tension escalated

Tension, however, started to escalate when, after De los Reyes spoke, Fernandez turned himself to the microphone to defend the council, saying that while they reduced some appropriations in the proposed budget, the city still has a P190 million surplus that can be used for supplemental budget if it needs it.

"Dili gyud makaingon sila nga gilaslasan namo nga way rason. Nakatigom pa gani ang syudad sa among paglaslas," Fernandez said.

Sensing that the ceremony already turned into a debate, an employee from the city's Human Resource Department took the microphone and informed the officials that the employees still had to proceed to Barangay Bulacao for a clean-up drive.

Talisay City executive secretary Solomon Paypa, who came to De los Reyes' defense, approached Fernandez and accused the councilor of lying to the public.

Fernandez was also confronted by the mayor's brothers, James and Joel De los Reyes, who described Fernandez' actuations as a form of mockery to the city mayor and his administration.

Aside from Fernandez, only Councilor Aldin Diaz attended the mass and flag-raising yesterday morning.

"I'm speechless and shocked sa nahitabo," Diaz said when sought for comment.

Merely ‘venting’

Mayor De los Reyes, in an interview with The Freeman, later said he was merely reacting to the "unfair" comments against his administration.

"Nagpahungaw lang ko. As a mayor, giingnan man ko nila nga wala ko'y project, so igo ra ko miingon ug misulti sa tinuod. Ako lang gipahayag unsa ang tinuod," he said.

"Ngano man nga mura siya (Fernandez) og masuko sa akong gisulti? Sa iyang pagka-mayor kaniadto, naa ba'y nagbuot niya, ilabi na sa iyang paggamit sa I.F.?" the mayor added.

BUDGET CHARTER DAY CITY CITY HALL FERNANDEZ LOS MAYOR REYES TALISAY CITY
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