Budget politics

By Editorial |May 31,2014 - 10:59 AM

In this age of climate change, energy crisis, and pork barrel corruption, the last thing Filipinos need are politicians feuding over taxpayers money.

That’s what happened in Toledo City, Cebu where its mayor, former senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, is caught in a budget dispute with six councilors identified with the One Cebu bloc of the Garcia clan.

The mayor secured a Court of Appeals victory that allows him to spend the 2014 annual budget. It was badly needed to pay a P1.2 million power bill after electricity was cut off in City Hall for several days and over 500 employes were left without their salaries until yesterday.

Was Osmeña and the six councilors engaged in a pissing contest to see who between them would bend over and yield to the other’s position of how much the Toledo City budget should be?

That’s what it looks like to their constituents, who are too busy earning a living to be bothered by a political tug-of-war.

Ordinarily, a newly elected official would be given some leeway to determine the budget of his administration for that year. Allies and political foes would give some breathing space after a tumultuous May 2013 election.

But there’s no honeymoon period in Toledo City.

Their constituents may have little interest in the million-and-one reaons Mayor Osmeña and the six councilors have for proposing and opposing a P600-million plus budget for Toledo City this year.

But they do care about consequences of their very public disagreement, when basic services are cut off.

When electric power in government offices is disconnected, when garbage collection and ambulances can’t run for lack of fuel, who should people blame?

The stalemate between Osmeña and the six councilors went too far.

After the Toledo Regional Trial Court issued a surprising temporary restraing order against the use of the 2014 budget, the situation was ripe for disruption.

It had to reach the Court of Appeals to find relief in this conflict of parochial politics.
Now that the appellate court has stepped in and neutralized the mess temporarily in this third-class city, let the mayor and his foes slug it out in court.

They shouldn’t hold hostage the legitimate spending of taxpayers’ funds for public services.

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