(UPDATED) – As the end of the first quarter draws near, municipal lawmakers of Sikatuna continue to review the town’s proposed annual budget for 2019 delaying its approval and causing the suspension of financial aid to constituents and allowances to government workers.
“Tinuod nga ang atong annual budget wala pa g’yud ma-aprobahi sa atong Sangguniang Bayan, so tungod niana, nakig-meeting ko sa atong mga department heads nagpahibaw nila kabahin ana, kay naa g’yuy naapektuhan sa atong pagdala sa atong lungsod,” said Sikatuna Mayor Jose Ellorimo, Jr.
The town’s local government unit since February suspended the allocation of personnel economic relief allowance (PERA) and representation allowance and transportation allowance (RATA) to municipal employees and emergency financial aid to senior citizens and indigents, while the town’s annual budget continued to be reviewed by the Sangguniang Bayan (SB).
Ellorimo alleged that the approval of the proposed budget has been politicized by opposition SB members and Vice Mayor Julian Mañigo, accusing them of curtailing his capacity to hire job order and casual employees.
Both Ellorimo and Mañigo are on their last terms. Ellorimo’s wife, under the Padayon Bol-anon local coalition, however will be running against an opposition SB member, who is supported by the Tinuod Bol-anon coalition, for the town’s mayoralty in the 2019 polls, while Mañigo seeks to secure a seat in the town council.
“Ang ato lang unta, dili e-apil sa pamolitika ang budget tungod kay daghan kaayo ang mga inosente. Niining ilang gi-himo, daghan g’yud ang naapektahan,” said Ellorimo.
“Wa man ko maguol and actually, bisan og di ko mo-hire, sa atong mga opisina naa man daan mo-abag sa atong opisina. Puydi man ta di na mo-hire kay naa na man tay mga job order ug casual, dili mana rason,” he added.
Mañigo denied the allegation noting that the delay of the approval was due to the late start of the budget’s review by the SB’s committee on appropriations led by the mayor’s brother, Councilor Jeremias Ellorimo.
According to Mañigo, the review started on January 10, 2019.
“Ang executive budget e-submit sa SB not beyond October 16. Gi-refer na sa committee on appropriations, nga igsuon ni mayor maoy chairman…Sad to say na gikan sa October, November, December, January 10 na sila mi-action og review,” he said.
The review was also stifled by budget insertions including an allocation for the purchase of a P-271,000 sound system.
Mañigo said that the proposed acquisition of the sound system was part of a compromise agreement between the SB and a party which filed a complaint against the town council for failure to take action on a request for legislative action against noise pollution during a fiesta celebration.
Lawyer Nilo Ahat filed a case before the Ombudsman in 2016, complaining against the SB’s inaction on his request for consideration on the issue on noise pollution. The issue however was referred to the Sangguniang Panalalawigan (SP), prompting the SB to enter into an agreement with Ahat.
“Mi-pagawas [SB] sila’g ordinansa nga Anti-Noise Pollution Ordinance, so bale ang akong complaint kintaha na overtaken sa ilang action. So maong didto sa SP, nag-compromise mi nga e-enforce what is in the letter and spirit of the ordinance,” he said.
Section 5 of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees stipulates that all government officials and employees shall respond, citing action taken on a request, to letters or other means of communications sent by the public within 15 working days from receipt of the message.
According to Mañigo, the LGU had no control of the outsourced sound system used during a previous disco activity which prompted Ahat, through a letter to the SB, to raise concern over the “disorderly” conduct of fiesta celebrations.
“Naay usa [budget insertion] na wa nila isod. Sound system, usa na. Kanang sound system is compromise agreement between Atty. Ahat ug mga members sa SB kay gikiha na baya mi anang attorney-ha tungod sa noise pollution,” Mañigo said.
“Naay mo reklamo na mga residential area na tungod sa disco…Aron pag-prevent sa mga mo reklamo, mag-implement ta og ordinansa na butangan og built-in sound system aron ma-control g’yud ang kakusogon sa sound. Ang LGU na mo-control sa kakusog [sa sound],” added Mañigo, claiming that the LGU had no control over the sound volume when it outsourced a sound system company.
However, Ahat said that the compromise agreement between him and the SB was signed in December, 2018 and approved by the SP through a resolution in January, 2019 while the town’s budget proposal was supposedly done by October, last year.
He noted that the allocation for the built-in sound system should have been coursed through a supplemental budget and should have not disrupted the approval of the town’s 2019 budget.
If municipal lawmakers fail to enact a budget ordinance 90 days from the beginning of the fiscal year, the SB will have a re-enacted budget for 2019.
However, Mañigo said that the SB will have approved the budget before the end of the first 90 days. (A. Doydora)