No show for city budget session
Not enough Cebu City councilors showed up for yesterday’s special session to tackle the shelved Supplemental Budget (SB) 1, as expected.
Only five came, prompting pro-Rama legislators to try set another one today.
And this time, the idea was raised of having absent members who are not official leave subject to arrest.
“The first option has been exercised. Second option, we can adjourn and call for another session and compel the councilors to attend. Third is to call for police assistance,” said Councilor Nendell Hanz Abella.
He said those who are just in the city could be compelled to attend through police action.
He and other Team Rama councilors appealed to peers from the Bando Osmeña – Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) to attend the session and deliberate on the P2.8-billion SB 1.
“We’re not saying that we should approve SB 1, but we should act on it,” Abella said.
Acting Vice Mayor Nestor Archival said there was no quorum with only five councilors present.
“We cannot transact business,” he said, adding that most members are on leave for the yuletide holiday.
The BO-PK majority has shelved discussion of the SB 1 at least six times before. They refuse to approve the spending of proceeds from the sale of South Road Property lots which were acquired in a public bidding by private developers, an issue pending in court.
Based on records of the secretariat, only Councilor James Anthony Cuenco filed for vacation leave for December 28.
Cuenco has been in Paris, France since December 11 to attend his son’s graduation, his staff said.
The other 16 elected members of the council didn’t file a leave but started thier Christmas break after holding their “last” session last week.
Only Councilors Abella, David Tumulak, Noel Wenceslao, Richie Osmeña and Philip Zafra, all members of Team Rama, showed up.
A quorum requires 50 percent of the council plus one or at least nine of the City Council.
“We cannot just bring them here because they are not around,” said Acting Vice Mayor Archival, presiding officer and BO-PK member.
“So far, as per information, all other members who are not here are not in their offices,” Archival said.
Councilor Gerardo Carillo, who arrived right after the session was adjourned yesterday, said councilors who continue to skip the sessions may end up facing administrative sanctions.
“If they cannot come, they have to have a valid explanation. And then if they cannot come, they will be subjected to disciplinary action (because) that is an abuse of power and dereliction of duty,” he said.
The bulk of the P2.8-billion SB 1 is earmarked by the RAma administration for the pre-payment of the Cebu City government’s loan for the 300-hectare SRP.
BO-PK Councilor Sisinio Andales said discussing SB 1 was useless since it has been rejected six times.
“Di sila maowaw ana? Nagduda na hinuon ko, is there a reason behind it? (Are they not embarrassed about it? I suspect, is there any reason behind it?),” he said
“We can pass another SB next year, from other sources, just like what happened to SB 2. Unless there is a final judgment from the court, we can’t discuss SB 1,” he said.
SB 2 was passed by the City Council during their last special session in December without opposition.
It included the P30,000 across-the-board yearend bonus for City Hall officials and employees sourced from city government funds.
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