Court: Eastern Samar 2012 budget ‘null and void’-A A +A
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
BORONGAN CITY -- A Regional Trial Court (RTC) here ruled in favor of six members of the Provincial Board (PB) who questioned the approval of the P662.76-million Eastern Samar 2012 budget, declaring it as null and void.
Judge Elvie Lim, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court branch 1, said in his decision released last June 26 that assailed Provincial Appropriation Ordinances 19, 20, and 21, all Series of 2011, are ineffective.
These ordinances, said the six board members who opposed the budget approval and enactment, failed to muster majority votes required under their internal rules and procedures.
The budget, as contained under Ordinance Number 20, was approved by Governor Conrado Nicart Jr. in December 19, 2011.
Board Members Aldwin Aklao, Byron Suyot, Enerio Sabulao, Jenny Baldono, Beatriz Reyes and Joji Montallana said in their 12-page complaint filed before the RTC branch 1 that the budget was passed by their colleagues despite lack of quorum.
Among those who approved the budget were Board Members Celestino Cabato, Jonas Abuda, Gorgonio Cabacaba, Sol Angelie Libanan, Floro Balato, Mark Pol Gonzales and Welgielyn Acol.
The Provincial Board of Eastern Samar has 14 members, to include Vice Governor Christopher Sheen Gonzales.
“The irregularity and nullity of these appropriation ordinances is very patent on their faces. In the enumeration of the members of the Sanggunian alone, it is already very clear that it has 14 members. Ergo, seven votes out of the 14 members is evidently not a majority votes,” the petitioners said.
They then sought for the court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order for the respondents not to enforce the 2012 provincial budget and eventually declare the ordinance containing the budget as null and void.
The petitioners also asked the court to render the same relief on Appropriation Ordinance Number 19, which involved an amount of P9 million, and Appropriation Ordinance Number 21, which involved the sum of P600,000.
Judge Lim then ruled for the issuance of a writ of prohibition commanding all respondents to “permanently desist from enforcing and implementing said ordinances.”
Sought for comment, Governor Nicart said although he is saddened by the decision, he has no other choice but to respect it.
He said he will hold a meeting with the provincial legal officer and his economic managers on what to do next as they shall be required to back the salaries and wages and other expenses when he authorized the payment under the Approved 2012 Provincial Budget.
Lawyer Christopher Coles, the provincial legal officer, said the Provincial Government shall file with the RTC a motion for reconsideration on its decision within 10 days.
He said the fund allocations of foods and medicines in all public hospitals in the province would again be compromised. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)