City Hall: Elipe ‘anti-poor’

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Friday, January 17, 2014


THE Cagayan de Oro City Hall branded Councilor President Elipe and his colleagues in the City Council’s majority bloc who are against the approval of the 2014 Executive Budget as ‘anti-poor.’

If the P2.6-billion executive budget for 2014 will not be approved, around 100,000 Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) members will be deprived of health insurance coverage, said city information officer Maricel Casiño-Rivera Thursday.

Rivera said most of the target beneficiaries of PhilHealth coverage are the poor residents in the city who cannot afford to pay for hospitalization.

She added that the interest of the indigenous people (IP), which is one of the underprivileged sectors of society, is at stake if the proposed budget will not be approved.

City administrator Roy Raagas said: “The Local Government Code tells us that it is impossible to use a supplemental budget to implement the special projects under the proposed 2014 Executive Budget.”

“A supplemental budget is a supplement to the general budget,” Raagas added.

He said that if the proposed 2014 Executive Budget will not be approved then there is nothing to supplement.

Meanwhile, Elipe said supplemental budgets are not allowed if there is no budget.

At the moment, he said it is not possible to have a supplemental budget because the city has no budget yet.

“But as soon as 90 days would lapse, or the City Council will reject the proposed budget for 2014, the re-enacted 2013 Executive Budget will become the budget for 2014,” said Elipe.

He added that the re-enacted budget (2013 Executive Budget) can then be subjected for supplemental budgets in which the special projects can be implemented.

Elipe added they (administration) are doing it to sow fear among the people.

City budget officer Percy Salazar said section 323 of the Local Government Code states that it is impossible to use a supplemental budget when the city hall is operating under the reenacted 2013 Executive Budget.

Raagas said included in the proposed budget for the 2014 is the renewal of the 50,000 members of PhilHealth from the previous administration.

Since 50,000 PhilHealth members are not enough compared with the total number of indigents in the city, Raagas said the present administration proposed an additional 50,000 members in the proposed budget.

In the 2014 Executive Budget the renewal and addition of new PhilHealth members amount to P240 million.

99% of POW submitted

On Thursday, Elipe maintained that without the program of works he will never vote for the approval of the budget.

But Rivera told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that 99 percent of the program of work (POW) is already prepared.

Rivera added that the special projects under the proposed executive budget have program of work even if it is not required by law.

Indigenous people’s woes

Nena Lumandong, coordinator of the City social welfare and development-Indigenous people (CSWD-IP), said P1.6 million is included in the proposed 2014 budget for the IPs.

Lumandong said the amount is intended for the livelihood and the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development & Protection Plan.

Jomorito Goaynon, regional coordinator of the Kalumbay Lumad group, said the political conflict should not hamper the development that is intended for the IPs in the city. Goaynon is a ‘datu’ (leader) of the Higaonon tribal group in the city.

“If there is a political conflict it should not sacrifice the betterment of the IPs,” said Goaynon.

Goaynon added the IPs in the city have been waiting for so long for the benefits that should be granted to them in the form of the protection of their ancestral domains.

He added that it is the money of the people and it is rightful that it should be released for the welfare of the people, especially the marginalized and the oppressed.

“We are urging the local government unit to release the budget for the lumads,” added Goaynon.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 17, 2014.

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