The Oro budget Circus (Part 2)-A A +A
By Dr. Bob Ocio
Isyo ug Servicio
Friday, January 31, 2014
The Moreno Experience
The Moreno administration upon assumption into office immediately implemented programs and projects he and he only know earlier without the consent of the City Council. He justifies this by saying that such funds, worth over P70 million were continuing appropriations. Yet, later, he belied his justification by submitting an Investment Plan and proposed budget thereof to the City Council AFTER THOSE PROJECTS HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED. Today too, he failed to provide copies to the City Council the same Programs of Work, Feasibility Studies and Detailed Cost Estimates for the Council to intelligently deliberate the budget proposal. When confronted, the City Information officer would issue conflicting statements, On one, she says that indeed, 90% of the Programs of work have been accomplished and which was bolstered by the declaration of the City Administrator that such documents are to be made available. On the other hand, the City Information Officer would attribute the Executive department as saying that the City Council has no business getting involved in the scrutiny of the Programs of Works. Today and up to this day, the Moreno administration cannot provide that Council the documents necessary to guide the Council on their vote on the Annual Investment Plan.
Transparency, Access to Public Records and the Freedom of Information Bill
Will it matter to us that the City Council must be provided access to such records whether or not the City Councilor is Elipe or Bacal and company? Or that the Mayor is Emano or Moreno? The answer is NO. Transparency demands that in a democratic government, the people much less the City Council must be given equal and unhampered opportunity to have access to public records. As such, I would like to submit that given the present circumstance, the City Council must ask from the Executive Department copies of the documents vital to the scrutiny of the Annual Investment Plan which covers the programs of the city prior to the approval thereof so that they can study and refer the matter to the public for consultation and hearing and to their advisers thereof for proper scrutiny.
The sad fact is both Mayors failed to do what they needed to do. If Moreno is serious about keeping the projects on time, then he has to agree to the tenets of basic transparency and the intent of the Freedom of Information Bill, then let the Council make an informed vote on the matter. Ngano unya pa man i hatag ang programs of Work and other documents? Unsaon pagtuon sa Konseho sa detalye niana kun ibundak nimo kana sa ilang lamisa unya na diha sa session?
Message to Moreno: Give Elipe and company the benefit of the doubt
If we have nothing to hide, then we should give Elipe and company access to those records prior to the Sessions and we have can make the records of the Annual Investment Plan and supporting documents thereof public, in a City Government website. That way, we the people can intelligently know whether Elipe or Bacal and company are objecting just for the sake of objecting. Then, the playing field will be evened and we can intelligently lobby for or against this Investment Plan which after all, negatively affects all the stakeholders and the public.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 31, 2014.