BARANGAYS will now get their funding for the Gilon-gilon Street Dancing competition in the 2012 Bangus Festival after the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) approved the P10 million supplemental budget sought by city hall.
Members of the SP majority, who initially refused to act on the proposed supplemental budget because it identified savings intended for personnel remuneration as the source for funding, eventually agreed after representatives of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on audit (COA) gave assurances that no law will be violated by using the city’s savings intended for employees benefits.
A closed-door executive session was held last Monday by the members of the SP together with the city hall officials with the DBM and COA representatives in attendance.
As approved, P6.1 million will come from personnel savings for the first quarter this year and the remaining P3.9 million from the reversion of the P3.9 budget surplus for year 2011.
But with the approval, Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, chair of the SP, strongly cautioned city hall against a possible situation eventually compromising the bonuses intended of permanent and emergency employees which will cost at least P9 million later this year.
She also pointed out that the approved P581 million budget of the city only covers the salary of emergency workers and consultants for six months, which means there is no allocation for the July-December period.
City Administrator Vladimir Mata, who attended the executive session for Mayor Benjamin S. Lim, assured the SP that wages will be covered by the approved budget.
“We would like to assure the Sangguniang Panlungsod that every centavo that is due our employees will be given to them on the due dates – with no delay,” Mata said.
The majority reiterated its position that priority appropriation from personnel savings should be for the benefits of employees as provided for in Section IV of City Ordinance 1975-2012 during the executive session that lasted two hours. The closed-door meeting was also attended by City Treasurer Romelita Alcantara and City Budget Officer Ildefonso Calimlim.
A DBM official cited a provision in the law that does not prohibit a legislative body from reverting savings in personnel service for other purposes.
The barangay chairmen trooped last Monday to the SP session hall to appeal to the councilors to approve the supplemental budget.
At least P3.1 million of the supplemental budget is allocated to the 31 barangays for the purchase of mobile receptacles for garbage collection.
Morevor, the 31 barangays asked for another P7.75 million, at P250,000 per barangay, ostensibly for tourism development programs and environmental enhancement.
In a privilege speech after the closed-door session, Fernandez belied reports that the SP does support the Bangus Festival and pointed out that that the delay in the approval of the supplemental budget was prompted by several factors including the fact that the P581 budget had just been approved and there were the legal complications inherent in the request.
Fernandez also admonished the executive branch and the Liga ng Barangay headed by Councilor Guillermo Vallejos for submitting an ill-prepared budget even as she reminded the office of the city mayor to incorporate the funding for the Bangus Festival next year in the annual city budget.
Councilor Brian C. Lim, a minority leader and chair of the Bangus Festival executive committee, thanked his fellow councilors and the vice mayor for agreeing to discuss the matter in an executive session and eventually approving the supplemental budget.
“I am very proud to be a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod because we were able to show that whether you (sic) may be from the minority or the majority… that if we will (sic) sit down and buckle down to the issues, something positive will come (sic),” said Lim, son of the mayor.
“I believe that the festival must be given support because at the end of the day, it is not just the festival of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor, or any city councilor or barangay captain but it a festival of the cityfolk and they (sic) should be given the utmost importance for this festival as it is a way of showing our unity,” he said in a statement. (with report from CIO)