Executive dictatorship and a blindfolded City Council

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By Dr. Bob Ocio

Isyo ug Servicio

Sunday, January 12, 2014


"EXAMINATION of program of works is definitely within the sphere of execution and thus already outside of the legislative power and function of the Sanggunian Panglunsod. Any UNDUE INTERFRENCE is a ground to discipline." - CDO Info Network.

Kinsay nagsulat ani? Ang Mayor? o si Maricel? Undue interference ba diay ang pagscrutinize sa Konseho sa budget? Trabaho ug obligasyon kana sa Konseho, obligasyon nila sa katawhan ug dili puede pakgangon tungod lang kay si Moreno na ang mayor ug mga sakup ni Dongkoy pa ang konsehal. All programs of work are matters of public record and as such, the City Council has to have access to it if it does not want to approve public spending blinfolded.

Section 106 of the Local Government Code of 1991 mandates each local government unit to prepare a comprehensive multi-sectoral development plan to be initiated by its local development council and approved by its Sanggunian. Pursuant thereto, the Department of the Interior and Local Government Unit (DILG) has developed the Enhanced Guide to Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for the Local Government Units. Is City Hall following? The answer is NO.

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The Department of Budget Management (DBM) requires the local government to convene the Local Development Council (LDC) which shall formulate the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) to be funded out of the 20 percent IRA, consistent with the said priority concerns. The LDC will evaluate the projects based on the needs of the community; feasibility study; status of existing projects; implementation of capacity of the LGUs; and maintenance requirement of the proposed programs.

Duna ba niini ang City hall? The answer is NO. Ang buot ipasabut mao nga dili lang Program of Works ang kinahanglan matag proyekto kundili apil niaa and FEASIBILITY STUDY sa matag milyon milyon nga gastohon nga kuarta sa katawhan.

It is noteworthy to remember that not too long ago, just after the new local administration came into power, projects worth over P70 million were undertaken. Moreno claimed it was derived from a continuing appropriation. Really? The project at Gaston Park was justified that way. However, the "works initially attributed to the project upon inquiry was charged to a continuing program of the Jaraula administration" Hahhaha. How can that be? They were certainly unable to justify why there was already the initiation of the project despite the absence of bidding and the supplemental budget and concurrence of the City Council.

In fact they stopped the works pending the bidding which was obviously still ongoing. Where else will that funds be charged to except but from the AIP which is supposed to be formulated by the city development council, the constitution of which included the chairman of the committee on finance of the city council and the approval of which from the Sangguniang Panglunsod. THAT IS THE CITY MAYOR acting as a city executive, city development council and Sanggunian all by himself. If that is not a dictatorship, then what is not?

Let me recall that during my incumbency as city councilor, I was a member of the majority in the Council dominated by the same majority now in the company of Elipe. The executive department headed by Emano would always want us (majority council members to be present in a weekly meeting after flag ceremonies on Mondays and in executive sessions an hour before the regular council session. Then I found out that some items wanted by the mayor for approval involved millions in public spending. Cautious about my job to protect public funds, the minority always asked for the program of works which the majority would deny.

Then, I thought I cannot go with the thinking of the majority and as such, I declared myself independent. From there on, I was resolved never to be a party to any ordinance which involves millions in public funds from the 20% development fund without proper discussion and documentation. Yet, that council would approve all of it 20 minutes before the council is adjourned and only on first reading, thereby making those ordinances railroaded in the process.

Elipe is objecting. His problem however, is that his group convened for the deliberation of the budget by January. He should have raised his objections and put them on record properly last year with the council in session without waiting for this year. Hence, that council muddled the whole thing with a suspicion of making a wholesale sabotage of the process because there are items in the budget which needed immediate approval like fixed expenditures.

How can a democracy work if the people are not involved in a process of determining their needs, want and desire in a participatory process? You don’t convene a city development council. You don't involve the city council and the people in an informed public hearing and consultation process because you refused furnish them the feasibility studies and program of works of the city development agenda.

How will I describe that leadership? Transparency demands that every act of government should include access to information and that is why we do not want Congress and the Executive department to exercise sole prerogative in public spending.

Transparency demands that we the people should have the right to public information and so we wanted the freedom of Information Bill approved. Why can't the city council have access to the program of works of development projects of the city?

Now, the Moreno administration wants it done the same way Dongkoy did it. I called Dongkoy a dictator and his council a rubber stamp. That is why we suspected corruption of mounting degrees from the past administration. Now, we are acting the same simply because Moreno is already the mayor and that Elipe and company are still councilors. We wanted a vibrant government and "undue interference' is not healthy. It smacks of dishonesty, and a corruption of the democratic processes which we hold dear for this nation and city.

I believe that in participatory democracy and invoking "undue interference" on matters of public record and spending smacks of executive dictatorship.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 12, 2014.

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