Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella returns annual budget ordinance to Cebu City Council
The Cebu city government may have to operate on a reenacted budget this year.
Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella returned to the Cebu City Council the P6.4-billion budget ordinance, saying it failed to meet the required number of votes for approval.
Labella asked the council to deliberate on the budget again “without delay.” The council has 90 days to act before the P13.4-billion budget for 2015 may be reenacted.
The acting mayor said at least 10 votes or 50 percent of the 18 council members plus one, are needed to approve the ordinance. Only nine voted to approve it last December, all from the majority Osmeña block.
Labella invoked Article 107 par (g) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code of 1991.
Acting Vice Mayor Nestor Archiva, Sr. disagreed that the budget was flawed.
He said a previous court ruling allowed a budget to be passed even with just three affirmative votes from council members.
“The (annual) budget is in order. For me, the budget is already thoroughly deliberated,” Archival said.
In his letter, Labella explained that since there are 18 members in the council, the majority votes needed would be 10.
There are 16 elected councilors, the ex-officio councilor from the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), and the presiding officer.
When the budget ordinance was approved last December, nine councilors from the majority bloc voted for its passage. The minority councilors opposed it.
Under section 323 of the Local Government Code, if the council fails to pass the ordinance for the annual budget, they have to continue with their session without pay until the budget is validly passed.
If the council still fails to enact the annual budget ordinance after 90 days from the beginning of the fiscal year, the budget from the previous year can be re-enacted.
For his part, Archival cited a case involving the Toledo council. Majority of the council was present during the session, but many walked out and left only three councilors who voted for the passage of the budget.
“The court resolved that the budget was legal – again check/verify on this case – I think this (is a) similar situation,” Archival said.
Councilor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña, who heads the committee on budget and finance, said they will just wait for the official notice on the issue.
“In the meantime, what budget do we use starting tomorrow (January 1)?” she asked.
City legal officer Jerone Castillo said Labella has called for a meeting with the Local Finance Committee on Saturday to discuss how they will go about the city’s budget for the first few months of 2016.
Castillo assured that the delivery of basic services will continue.
Whether disbursements for the city’s maintenance and other operating expenditures will be based on the 2015 budget is still not clear, with Castillo saying they have to finalize the matter with the Local Finance Committee.