DILG asked for legal opinion: Is inaction over budget proper?

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita November 15,2015 - 11:23 PM

CEBU City Hall is asking the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 for its legal opinion on the current impasse over the P2.8 billion Supplemental Budget 1 (SB1).

In a letter dated November 13, City Administrator Lucelle Mercado asked DILG Cebu City Director Danilo Almendras whether the City Council’s “apparent inaction” on the SB1, due to the civil case filed by Romulo Torres in court, is proper or not.

She narrated the background on the issue which started on the question of whether or not the city’s sale of the two lots in the South Road Properties (SRP) through public bidding is legal or not, considering City Ordinance No. 2332 was passed by the City Council “protecting” the SRP from “unlawful and unauthorized transactions and dealings.”

“From the title of the ordinance itself, it aimed to protect the South Road Properties from alleged unlawful and unauthorized transactions and dealings. However, upon carefully reading the provisions of the said ordinance, it actually prohibits any person, employee or official of Cebu City from selling, disposing, transferring or conveying properties in the South Road Properties without prior authority from the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Cebu,” read Mercado’s letter.

She further explained that because of this, the Council’s approval of a resolution in 2014 to authorize the mayor to sell the lots through public bidding was in compliance to the ordinance.

Commission on Audit Circular No. 29-296, dated Jan. 27, 1989 also states that divestment and disposal of government properties should primarily be made through public bidding, Mercado added.

The issue on whether or not the resolution amends or supersedes the ordinance is the main question of Torres’s pending case before the Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Torres is asking the court to prohibit City Hall from using the P8.3 billion down payment it received from the SM-Ayala Group and Filinvest Land, the two winning bidders of the SRP lots.

The case prompted the council to defer the approval of the SB1.

Minority councilors allied with Team Rama have been continuously asking the Council’s majority bloc to lift the SB1 deferment and approve the additional budget already. But for five times, they have been rejected.

“Armed with the foregoing factual and legal bases, this Office humbly requests the Department of Interior and Local Government (Cebu City Division) to render a legal opinion on whether or not the Cebu City Sangguniang Panlungsod is justified in shelving deliberations on the SB No.1 under the circumstances,” she said.

The P2.8-billion Supplemental Budget 1 contains the P2.3-billion prepayment of the SRP loan, P87-million garbage tipping fees, and P77-million productivity enhancement incentive for the employees, among others.

Mercado said the executive department has already expected P4.5 billion from the down payment from the sale of the SRP lots since last year since it has been identified as one of the fund sources for the city’s P13.4-billion budget this year.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City Council, Department of Interior and Local Government, SRP, Supplemental Budget 1

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