Elipe: 'No program of work, no budget approval'

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

THE Cagayan de Oro City Council halted the budget hearing on Wednesday and called for an executive meeting to discuss on how to proceed with the deliberations of the proposed 2014 Executive Budget amid the concern on incomplete program of work (POW).

“We need to have an executive meeting on how to go about it without the POWs,” said Councilor President Elipe.

He said some documents and POWs are yet to be submitted to the city council.


“As of the moment, roughly only P500 million of the P820 million budget for the special projects have POWs,” Elipe said.

Elipe said the City Council is no longer discussing the special projects because those were already delegated to the committee level.

He added that the City Council should have an intelligent discussion regarding the POWs in order to authorize the proposed 2014 Executive Budget including the special projects.

“The City hall has already declared that the POWs are unnecessary,” said Elipe reiterating that he won’t vote for a legislative measure without the POWs.

Admin to cooperate

Meanwhile, city administrator Roy Raagas told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro the executive department is willing to cooperate with the City Council.

“Despite the fact that the POWs are not essential for the approval of the budget, we are still willing to cooperate,” said Raagas.

Raagas said the details of the special projects can be explained during deliberations without necessitating the POWs.

He added: “With respect to his (Elipe) judgment, for the purpose that the budget will be approved, we are doing our best that the departments (which have not yet submitted their POWs) can submit.”

Raagas said during the administration of former mayor Vicente Emano, POWs were not required by the legislative branch to get the proposed budget approved.

“Their lump sum appropriations before were not required to have POWs,” said Raagas.

Raagas added POWs are for the purpose of implementing a project.

“During deliberation, the City Council can always ask the details of my project without the POWs,” said Raagas.

He said the City Council should proceed with the deliberation even if the POWs are not yet complete.

“For instance: If there are 100 POWs and only one is missing, would that be enough for the City Council not to proceed?” asked Raagas.

Elipe during the budget hearing Wednesday said the committee on finance means submitted some POWs on its projects.

‘People will suffer’

If the City Council will continue to demand for the program of work as a strict requirement for the approval of the 2014 budget, then the people in the city will suffer, said Charles Marquez, a medical doctor who is also politically active in his hometown.

Marquez was a candidate for councilor in Iligan City who lost the election, and is now serving as an emergency doctor at J.R. Borja city hospital.

He said the function of the Commission on Audit (COA) is enough to protect the money of the people from corruption, on top of the scrutiny on budget proposals made within the executive branch of the local government.

Marquez said the city mayor will also not approve if the special projects have dubious details and do not address the need of the people.

However, Marquez observed that there is a tinge of mistrust from the majority of the city council on the executive branch leadership, thus the insistence on the POWs.

Although it is logical to demand for a POW, he said it can also be the basis of the City Council to reject the 2014 Executive Budget or hold it in abeyance.

“Because of that, the people will ultimately suffer from it,” said Marquez.

Health insurance

Marquez added: “As a doctor, I have observed that there’s a great need for the poor people to have health insurance.”

He added that if the 2014 Executive Budget will not be approved and the 2013 budget will be totally re-enacted, then it will deprive the underprivileged with their right to health services considering the price increase on PhilHealth coverage.

“The proposed budget should be approved to renew the old members and add additional members.”

He also cited that a lot of projects have to be done in order to serve the people here in Cagayan de Oro.

“I am afraid that these projects might just have been proposed and were not in the 2013 Executive Budget,” said Marquez.

Wild goose chase

Marquez said the City Council is on a ‘wild goose chase.’

For someone without leaning in the local politics, he said it is difficult to identify on whom between the opposition or administration really wants to hasten the approval of the 2014 executive budget.

He said he noticed during the hearing that all of the members of the city council wanted to discuss the POWs. “If all of them agreed that the POW should be submitted and scrutinized by the City Council, the minority and the majority alike were actually slowing the deliberations,” he said.

On a final note, Marquez said that if the council will really push for looking into the details of the POWs then the process will sure lag the approval of the 2014 Executive Budget.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 16, 2014.

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