City Council: Which budget do we use?
In its first regular session of the year, the Cebu City Council passed a resolution calling on the executive department to implement the P6.4 billion annual budget approved for 2016.
The majority bloc rejected the idea of falling back on a reenacted budget of the previous year.
The Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) bloc insisted that the budget ordinance was validly passed.
Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella earlier returned the budget ordinance to the council, saying it lacked the required number of votes to be valid.
“His (Labella’s) inaction within 10 days means that that approved annual budget is deemed approved. The budget office should be required to enforce the 2016 annual budget,” Councilor Sisinio Andales said.
Team Rama councilors Gerardo Carillo, Philip Zafra and Nendell Hanz Abella said they had reservations on the passage of the resolution.
Labella said the 2016 budget was passed by a simple majority vote of nine, not an absolute majority of half the council plus one or 10 votes which makes it invalid.
But Councilor Margot Osmeña, who heads the committee on budget and finance, cited an opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on a similar situation in Cotabato province in 2010.
In the opinion signed by Undersecretary Austere Panadero, it said the law is silent on what kind of majority vote is required from the council in terms of annual and supplemental budget appropriations.
“In its silence, the presumption is, the same is to be enacted only by a simple majority vote,” the DILG said.
A simple majority means at least half of the present members plus one.
The BO-PK bloc said an absolute majority, which is one half plus one of all elected and qualified council members, is only needed when approving measures “directing to pay or create liability.”
City Budget Officer Marietta Gumia said the city has been operating on a reenacted budget since January 1.
She said this opinion was relayed to her by an official of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“I still have to refer to (Acting Mayor) Labella about that,” she said when sought for comment on the council’s order for her office to enforce the 2016 budget.
She said the Local Finance Committee will also meet on the matter.
Gumia said parts of the reenacted budget were used to fund salaries and wages of existing positions, statutory and contractual obligations and essential expenditures.
Gumia said they are working on the payroll for the disbursement of the prizes for the winners of the Sinulog Grand Parade using the reenacted budget.
Heated arguments ensued over last-minute deliberations called by the minority bloc to try to force approval of Supplemental Budget 1 (SB1) which the BO-PK bloc had set aside last year.
In a privilege speech, Councilor Alvin Dizon said he felt humiliated by the Team Rama faction’s call to arrest councilors who didn’t attend the special session.
“It should be resorted to only during very special circumstances, such as when city councilors are habitual absentees,” Dizon said.
Dizon said most councilors had already expressed their plans to go on holiday leave and vacation before the Christmas and New Year break.
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