Cebu City’s P10.4 billion budget awaits council approval
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Less than a month until the new year, the Cebu City Council is yet to approve the 2020 budget proposed by Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Councilor Raymond Garcia, majority floor leader, said the budget would “definitely” be passed on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, the last regular session before the year would end.
“We already did the inquiries. The budget is justified, so we expect the budget to be passed before the year ends,” said Garcia.
If the budget fails to get the approval of the council, the city will have to use the 2019 budget passed by the previous mayor, Tomas Osmeña, at P8.2 billion, which is at least P2 billion lower than the proposed budget of Labella of P10.4 billion.
The delay of the annual budget approval can be attributed to the inquiries of opposition council members and Vice Mayor Michael Rama on the allocated P35 million for the Sinulog activities, which has been discussed in a regular session on December 11, 2019.
Rama said the Sinulog Foundation Incorporated (SFI) had to inform the Council on the changes brought by the newly-formed Sinulog Governing Board (SGB).
The vice mayor insisted that the SFI return on December 18 to explain the new organizational structure and present the allocation of the budget.
In previous statements, Mayor Labella said the P35 million would directly go to the subsidies of the contingents and for the prizes of the contests.
The 2020 annual budget is also facing the disapproval of opposition councilors from the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK), as they argued the source of funds of the budget could not be from the 2015 sales of a 45-hectare lot at the South Road Properties.
Councilor Nestor Archival, the minority floor leader, pointed out in session several times that the sale of the SRP lots in 2015 was illegal because then mayor, now Vice Mayor Rama, did not have the authority from the City Council to enter into a contract with the SM-Ayala Consortium and Filinvest.
Archival said that if the city would continue to use the funds, they might face repercussions with the Commission on Audit.
Garcia said that there would be no stopping from using the proceeds of the SRP sales since both lower and appellate courts had affirmed the legality of the sales.
At least P1.5 billion of the P10.4 billion will be sourced from the SRP proceeds while the rest will be sourced from the earnings of the city.
Recently, the petition for Declaratory Relief and Temporary Restraining Order requested by Osmeña over the sale was denied by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court 7.
The councilor said that if the opposition bloc would insist against the annual budget, the council would most likely be divided, in which case, the administration bloc had the advantage.
“We have the numbers. We will pass that annual budget,” said Garcia. /dbs
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