THE regular session of Cagayan de Oro City Council on Tuesday was hurled with controversy after a barangay official and his councilors walked out of the session hall.
The incident happened after the City Council unanimously approved a measure that would cut off the revenue source of Barangay Gusa, whose chairperson, Enrico Salcedo, is identified with the opposition.
Salcedo issued his opposition to the approval of the ordinance and walked out of the session hall along with his councilors.
The ordinance seeks to repeal a 2006 ordinance allotting 50 centavos from every P10 terminal departure fee collected by the City Government from public utility jeepneys at the Eastbound PUJ Terminal in Barangay Gusa.
The allocation was earlier given to defray additional expenses incurred by the barangay in the maintenance of the facility, including the peace and order.
In approving the measure, the City Council said "the maintenance of the terminal is now being undertaken by personnel paid by the City Government while the peace and order condition in the area is already maintained by operatives of Police Precinct 3."
However, Salcedo said the approval of the measure is unfair to them as they were not asked to air their side.
"In fact, we were not even informed about this earlier," Salcedo said, who is identified with the camp of defeated mayoralty candidate Rolando Uy, who lost to Mayor Vicente Emano by just 2,130 votes in the May 10 polls.
He said as mandated by law, it is proper to inform the aggrieved party before a final decision is made.
"There should be a parallel communication, in which the City Council will hear our side and our concerns. They must give us enough time to air our views as to why we need the share of the terminal toll fee," Salcedo said.
He said of the P300,000 that the barangay earned from the toll fee and the comfort room fee every year, P260,000 goes to the maintenance and the staff while the P40,000 goes to the medicines and bulbs for the barangay street lights.
During the session, Salcedo got an ally in Councilor Edgar Cabanlas, who said Emano proposed the repeal of the 2006 ordinance because during the May election, he "lost" to Uy in Gusa.
"Why would we put the reason of politics in the ordinance? Why will we revoke the ordinance that we passed? Just because Emano and Salcedo are the worst of enemies now? Let us not penalize Barangay Gusa, which earns merely P300,000 a year from toll charges and comfort room fees," Cabanlas said during the session.
Councilor Roger Abaday requested his colleagues to study first the ordinance before making the final decision.
"Since 2008, Barangay Gusa did not ask any help from the city because it can stand on its own. Let us not take away their privilege. Gusa is a government corporation. It also has the preference to have its own share," Abaday said.
He commented that the matter is being "personalized."
However, Councilor Emmanuel Abejuela said the passage of the ordinance is not based on political issues but on the fact that the City Government is the one spending for the maintenance of cleanliness and sanitation in the area, including the maintenance of peace and order. (Nicole J. Managbanag)