A CEBU City opposition councilor wants the City to cancel the proposed P30 million confidential expenses appropriated under the Peace and Order program of the proposed annual budget for 2021.
Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon said allocating P30 million for confidential expenses amid the Covid-19 pandemic “is both immoral and unjustifiable.”
Dizon urged Mayor Edgardo Labella to reduce or abandon such expenses as there are more important programs that need funds.
“We need to prioritize the use of people’s tax money on more essential programs and projects geared at addressing the pandemic,” said Dizon.
In the 2020 budget, the City allocated only P1 million for confidential funds.
In a separate interview, Labella said under the Local Government Code, confidential or intelligence funds should not be more than three percent of the annual appropriations or not more than 30 percent of the whole budget allocated for the peace and order program in the city.
Labella proposed a P200 million budget for the peace and order program for 2021.
“You talk about 30 percent, supposedly, we’re allowed to use an intelligence fund of P60 million, but I only proposed P30 million,” said Labella.
Labella, who is also the chairman of the Cebu City Peace and Order Council (CPOC), said the intelligence fund can be used to fight against criminality in the city, especially in the fight against illegal drugs.
He said if it won’t be utilized, it can always be returned to the City’s coffers.
As some members of the Cebu City Council are hesitant in using the proceeds of the South Road Properties (SRP) lot sale as one of the sources of revenue for the 2021 budget, Labella said the City is allowed to use it and there are no alternative sources of funds.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, chairman of the budget and finance committee, said if the Council will not agree to use the SRP lot sale proceeds, the Local Finance Committee might be forced to look for another source of funds.
The committee as a whole is set to conclude the budget hearing on Nov. 27, said Garcia.
The proposed budget for 2021 is P10.8 billion. (JJL)