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Labella hits back at opposition councilors: ‘Where were you during the pandemic?’

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital | December 07,2020 - 06:06 PM


Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella. | file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella seems to have had enough of the criticisms from councilors of  opposition party Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) over the 2021 annual budget.

Read: Labella eyes P10B for Cebu City 2021 annual budget

The mayor hit back at the opposition councilors in a statement on Monday, December 7, 2020, saying that they were nowhere to be found during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Katong pagpandemic, asa man to sila? Karon nga we have flattened the curve, karon nga we are considered as a golden standard, karon saba na kaayo sila,” said the mayor.

(During the pandemic, where were they? Now that we have flattened the curve, now that we are considered asa golden standard, they’re making a lot of noise.)

The approval of the 2021 budget was delayed because the council members wish to scrutinize the allocations for the projects and expenses of each department, division, and office.

Read: Thorough review causes delay in approval of Cebu City’s 2021 budget

Although he said he understands the check-and-balance role of the City Council, the mayor said questioning allocations that are necessary for running of the city, especially for pandemic response, is a “political move more than anything” by the opposition councilors.

In particular, Labella hit at Councilor Alvin Dizon for calling the P30 million intelligence funds he proposed under the 2021 annual budget as “immoral” when he was entitled to such budget under Commission on Audit (COA) rules.

COA states that the intelligence funds must not be more than 30 percent of the peace and order budget.

The city’s peace and order proposed budget reached P200 million, and the P30 million request of the mayor for the intelligence funds is only 15 percent of this budget.

It can be noted though that expenses from the intelligence funds cannot be publicly accessed.

“Kung gikan gani sa atong opisina, i-question gyod na niya (Dizon). Sa iya gurong huna-huna, iyang gustong babagan ang atong mga gustong katuyuan. And I’m not surprised,” said Labella.

Labella also noted that during the term of former mayor Tomas Osmeña, the BOPK councilors did not scrutinize the budget as they are doing now under his term.

The mayor instead compared the opposition councilors to his own partymates at Barug-PDP Laban and Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who, he said, were present during the entire time the city battled the pandemic, helping the executive department run the pandemic response.

Councilor Dizon, for his part, said there is no political motivation to his move to question the budget because it is his duty as an elected official.

Read: Dizon to Labella: Prioritize COVID-19 response in 2021 budget

“The mayor should be reminded that the council was the one who gave the executive department a budget to respond the COVID-19 pandemic. Naggahin og at least P3.5 billion nga budget ang konseho. Kung wala nihatag og budget and council, maglisod sila,” said Dizon.

Dizon also reminded the mayor that he has the duty to be transparent to his constituents as well and provide the liquidation reports for the P3 billion.

The COVID budget that he asked for during the pandemic were all approved by the city council. Where are the liquidation reports?,” he asked. 




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TAGS: budget, Cebu City, Labella, opposition, politics

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