WHERE are the opposition members of the Cebu Provincial Board (PB)? Is the entire board now a rubber stamp? Where is Vice Gov. Hilario Davide III? Why did he not play the role of a fiscalizer?
I pose this question following the passage of an appropriation ordinance on the supplemental budget requested by Gov. Gwen Garcia amounting to P1.38 billion. The PB passed the budgetary appropriation during its regular session last Monday like “lightning.” It was passed in the first, second, third and final reading in less than 10 minutes with no question and objection.
The reason for the “speedy” passage was that there was no question when it was presented on the floor by sixth district PB Member Glenn Soco, who is the chairman of the committee on budget and appropriations. There was no question or even clarification made by any member even during the caucus. According to Soco, under the house rules, any budgetary measure presented can be endorsed immediately if there is no question. Siyaro og wala gyud pangutana ang bisan usa ka member? (Not a single member had any questions?)
And what about the vice governor? Why did he not allow somebody to preside over the session, go down to the floor and join the discussion? The big chunk, or about P800 million of the supplemental budget, was intended for the improvement, repair, rehabilitation and construction of provincial roads. The remainder will be utilized for water supply and buildings and other structures. Part of it was for extending financial assistance to the barangay for the preservation of culture and traditions, especially for the fiesta celebrations as promised by Gwen during the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) general assembly.
This supplemental budget is very insulting for the Davide administration. Why? Because it only showed that he failed to address and attend to these basic infrastructure problems during his incumbency. Davide could have valid ground and basis to question the appropriation. Like asking the specific location of these infrastructure projects. He could have defended his administration by saying he already attended to these problems.
What about the aid to the barangays, which includes fiesta celebrations? Does it mean that the Province will give financial aid to each barangay for the holding of their fiesta celebration? Sus, mahurot atong kuwarta ana. Pila gud ka buok barangay sa entiro lalawigan? Magkumbira sila unya gasto sa mga magbubuhis? (Jesus! We will run out of money. There are many barangays in the province, and taxpayers will pay for their celebrations?)
Included in the line item for the budget is the P269 million earmarked to subsidize the local government units, including the financial support of P500,000 to P700,000 each to cities and municipalities participating in the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo (festival of all festivals). Davide did not continue this activity during his term, saying, “It’s a total waste of money.” Why did he not raise his objection to this appropriation? Even though his group is composed of the minority in the PB, at least they can voice out some of their concerns and objections. Sus, naghilum-hilum ra man sila. (But they just stayed silent.)
I am not saying they will play the role of obstructionists. They should play the role of fiscalizers. Or devil’s advocate. There are a lot of nagging questions in the passage of this supplemental budget that need clarifications. Unsa man, wala gyud silay ikapangutana o pagsupak ba kaha? Or nahadlok lang silang mangutana labi pag mosupak? (Did they really have no questions? Or were they just afraid to ask, much more, to oppose?)