P10 M FOR BSL’S CENTROMART INSERTED
A P10 million fund for the repair of a private market owned-corporation led by Mayor Benjamin Lim as recommended by the Local Development Council in the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) of Dagupan City was approved by the majority members in the Sanggunian Panlungsod.
The AIP covering the city’s spending plan over a six-year period starting 2013, which was approved last week contains an allocation for the reconstruction of the Lim’s CentroMart.
The minority composed of Councilor Maybelyn Fernandez and Jeslito Seen opposed the plan and attempted to return the AIP to the Local Development Council (LDC) to correct the anomalous entries.
However, Councilor Brian Lim, son of the mayor and de-facto leader of the new majority, blocked the minority’s move saying, “wala tayong kapangyarihan sa batas na sabihin sa kanila (LDC) na mali kayo, kami ang tama.”
Councilor Jesus Canto, chair of the committee on appropriations, supported Lim’s position with his claim that since LDC is composed of barangay chairmen, selected representatives of non-government organizations, representatives of the Sangguniang Kabataan, Department of Education and Senior Citizens, it is not subject to the city council’s amendments.
Seen chided his colleagues in the majority for including the budget allocation for the CentroMart in the AIP but not one of the majority members reacted.
Councilor Maybelyn Fernandez, meanwhile, called the AIP “very unrealistic” saying the P1.4 billion budget over six years is too high considering the proposed budget for 2013 is only P612 million.
It’s a “suntok sa buwan”, Fernandez said, and warned that the city government appears to be making promises to the public that it could not keep.
Canto defended the P1.4 billion allocation saying it is in anticipation of “windfalls that will come from the national government or foreign government” and said these could not be used if there is no AIP.
During the deliberations, Councilor Lim was seen constantly approaching Canto and other councilors to coach them on their responses to the objections of Fernandez and Seen.
AGAINST THE LAW
Councilor Fernandez also pointed out that the AIP is “ultra vires” violating three national laws, namely: Republic Act 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, the Magna Carta of Women and the Local Government Code.
She said the AIP does not have a corresponding disaster management plan nor a GAD (Gender Development) plan as required by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which the executive also failed to submit last year.
The failure of the city hall to attach the GAD prompted DBM to return the approved 2012 budget to the city government.
“There are still no disaster risk reduction and management plan and GAD plan. For the nth time, this representation had been continuously asking for these since two years ago. To this day, wala pa tayong nare-receive na plano,” Fernandez said as she noted lump sums of P30 million as risk reduction fund (calamity fund) and P2 million for women and gender development.
The lady councilor also pointed out that the P30 million allocated for the calamity fund is less than what is provided under Sec. 324, paragraph “d” the Local Government Code and RA No. 101201, stipulating a minimum of five percent of the proposed budget be reserved for it.
On the other hand, the Magna Carta of Women likewise required all government agencies to set aside five per cent of their total budget for projects that concern women and to fund the campaign for gender development and equality.
“Ang hindi pagsunod sa batas na ito ay nangangahulugan ng paglabag ng batas para sa mga kababaehan dito sa Dagupan,” Fernandez said, noting that P30.6 million should be allocated for this.
At the same time, Fernandez noted that the AIP for 2013 allocated P284,334,160 for personnel services, which is a violation of the Local Government Code which provides that appropriation for personnel services shall not exceed 45 percent of the actual realized income from regular sources during the next preceding year (2011), which was P564 million.
Another irregularity pointed out was the budget for personnel services exceeded by P30 million.
“Kulang ng P600,000 sa calamity fund at kulang tayo ng P30.4 million sa GAD fund pero sa personnel service sobra ng mahigit na P30 million,” Fernandez pointed out.
Fernandez said these errors could have been avoided if the members of the LDC had been properly guided by the representative of the SP who attended the LDC Coordinating Meeting in August, referring to Canto.
By law, it is the chairman of the SP committee on appropriations that is mandated to attend the LDC meeting although Canto said all councilors need to attend, chiding Councilor Fernandez for not attending. .
Seen submitted his observation that there is a P23 million allocation for a city slaughterhouse that does not exist; a P28 million yearly for the construction of a lying-in clinic instead of providing medical insurance for the poor, especially pregnant women; P50 million for the closure of the city dump site without citing specific plans, and the use of 20 per cent development fund for schools development and infrastructure program, but does not provide specifics.