Mayor, councilors trade barbs on hiring consultants

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014


HIRING of the consultants in both executive and legislative branches has been causing exchange of barbs between Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and the majority members of the City Council.

Moreno vetoed the approved ordinances 12723-2014, 12724-2014, 12725-2014 and 12726-2014 on February 27, 2014. The ordinances authorize Vice Mayor Caesar Ian Acenas to enter into consultancy services with certain individuals, which Moreno alleged an “ultra vires” or without authority and prejudicial to the public welfare.

Moreno said the granting of authority to the vice mayor to contract professional services is illegal as it breached the provisions of the local government code and the government procurement act.

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Meanwhile, Councilor President Elipe said that former mayor Vicente Emano handed him documents regarding the consultants hired by the Moreno administration. Elipe is the husband of councilor Nadya Emano, one of the children of Dongkoy.

The documents indicated that consultants have been certified under the job order (JO) employees category of the City Government.

Elipe said the funds used by the administration for the wages of the hired consultants come from the 2013 Executive Budget and "to use those funds require an enactment from the city council."

Consultants

With the ordinances enumerated, Acenas intends to avail of the services of Michael Salvador, Griscelda Joson, lawyer Andrew Barba, and Dongkoy.

Moreno’s consultants include: Atty. Jose Sabanal, Atty. Donald Delegencia, Atty. Jonathan Pacuribot, Lorimer Moreno, Rodney Quiblat, Rudy Mayuman, Valentino Rosabal, Elmer Pamisa, Veronica Fe Fernandez, Arturo Mercado, Samuel del Bando, Oscar Cinco, Atty. James Judith, Atty. Noel Beja, Atty. Antonio Resma, Marithel Moreno, Elmer Wagas, Norris Babiera, Oliver Egypto, Atty. Doreen Delegencia, Danilo Maputol and Emmanuel Roa. Their professional fees come from the 2013 Executive Budget.

Violations

Based on the documents that Elipe provided Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro, the consultants have been certified to become employees of the City Government and assumed office in January 2014.

Elipe said the consultants hired last year are presently hired as JO employees of the City Hall.

The documents show that: “This certification is issued to the above-mentioned employees (consultants) in connection with their desire to claim their wages.”

The documents contain an obligation request worth P104,485 for Donald Delegencia, et al, for the month of January that will be drawn from the realigned budget of 2013.

Elipe clarified that in the local government code, an item can only be reverted when the project is completed or unimplemented.

He asserted that before the administration can use the funds for other purposes, it should be enacted by the City Council.

Chapter 3, section 322 of the local government code states that “unexpended balances of appropriations authorized in the annual appropriations ordinance shall revert to the unappropriated surplus of the general fund at the end of the fiscal year and shall not thereafter be available for expenditure except by subsequent enactment.”

The code adds: “The balances of continuing appropriations shall be reviewed as part of the annual budget preparation and the Sanggunian concerned may approve, upon recommendation of the local chief executive, the reversion of funds no longer needed in connection with the activities funded by said continuing appropriations subject to the provisions of this Section.”

Had Moreno opted to hire them as consultants and not as JOs, Elipe could have voted for hiring the said consultants.

No violation committed

But City Administrator Roy Raagas told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the budget used for the wages of those JO consultants come from the re-enacted budget and no violation has been committed.

In January this year, the annual budget for 2014 was not yet approved.

Raagas said the 2013 budget ordinance granted the city mayor the power to augment from available sources granted it is under the same expense class.

Meanwhile, Councilor Zaldy Ocon said the hiring of consultants for the administration is beyond the authority of the City Council.

Ocon pointed out that in the local government code, one of the powers of the City Government is to enter into contracts and that the consultancy of the administration is beyond the power of the City Council, “and interfering with it is an encroachment of power of the executive.”

With regard the consultants for the city vice mayor, Ocon voted for the passing of the ordinance hiring Emano as a consultant. Later, he found out that it violates the law after Moreno cited the reasons of the violations in the veto he filed.

Councilor Roger Abaday admired Emano’s diligence in securing the documents that Elipe presented. He advised Elipe to go deeper in his investigation.

Abaday said the document Elipe presented are evidence that could be used for legal purposes.

“I don’t know if they have committed ‘suicide’ in signing those documents -- if that is legal or illegal they will have to answer for it,” Abaday said.

Abaday also believes that hiring the consultants is beyond the jurisdiction of the legislative branch.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 05, 2014.

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