Davide swore in newest member of Toledo council

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

THE Toledo City Council has a replacement for Councilor Ricardo Rafols Jr. who passed away several months ago.

Last May 16, Gov. Hilario Davide III swore in 48-year-old Dr. James Yared Gaite, a member of the Lebumfacil clan and head of the Lebumfacil-Santa Ana Medical Foundation Inc.

“There was never a history in Toledo na walay Lebumfacil sa gobyerno (there wasn’t a Lebumfacil in government),” Gaite told Sun.Star Cebu, citing his ancestor Fulgencio Lebumfacil who was mayor of the then town of Toledo in the 1800s; Potenciano Lebumfacil, who was mayor during the Japanese occupation; and former Toledo City mayor Emmanuel Lebumfacil, first cousin of Gaite’s grandmother Magdalena.


Budget freeze

Gaite is the eldest of four siblings. His parents are Melanio Gaite and Cecil Lebumfacil, both retired from business.

Days before Gaite was sworn to office, Toledo City was rocked by a court order freezing the disbursement of its funds.

So his priority, he said, is to get the City’s P619-million 2014 budget operative after the court issued a writ of preliminary injunction last week.

City Councilors Ricardo Pepito, Antonio Borja Jr., Rogelio Caburnay, Louis Nicolas Espinosa, Helel Jill Espinosa and Edgar Aguilar had petitioned the court to declare the City’s 2014 budget void.

Gaite’s job is to convince one or two of these councilors to change their minds.

“If we can let them understand that the people voted for them, so they should forward with utmost priority the interest ang kaayuhan sa mga tao (and good of the public),” he said.

With Gaite’s entry, there are now four administration councilors and seven opposition councilors.

The question of quorum was raised during the special session last March 27, when the council passed the annual budget.

Vice Mayor Antonio Yapha said more than half of the council members were present that time: three administration councilors, two opposition councilors and himself.

But opposition councilors begged to differ. With a frozen budget, the City Government is paralyzed, Gaite said.

There are is no fuel for its vehicles, no medicines and workers cannot get paid.

Health system

“Pagpasar sa 2014 budget it effectively killed the 2013 budget, so di na mi kabalik sa reenacted budget (We can’t have a reenacted budget since the 2013 budget was effectively killed when the 2014 budget was passed),” Gaite said.

And since the opposition councilors asked the court to declare the budget ordinance void, the court temporarily stopped disbursement of the 2014 budget until the issue is resolved.

Even before the move paralyzed the City, its health system was already in a bad state, Gaite said. The city hospital remains in the infirmary level, he added.

That was why their family set up the foundation in 2004 to help indigent patients.

In 2009, his aunt Lilian Lebumfacil Yared, one of the foundation’s organizers, received the Banaag Presidential Award from then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Dato kaayo ang Toledo, way problema sa kwarta, di lang magamit ang kwarta (Toledo doesn’t have money problems because it’s a rich city but the money can’t be used),” Gaite said.

The city is host to big companies like the Global Power Corp., Carmen Copper Corp., the former Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. and soon-to-open Aboitiz Power Plant Corp.

Gaite earned his medical degree from the Cebu Institute of Medicine in 1991. He took his pre-med studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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