THE Cebu City Budget Office has started implementing the P6.4-billion annual budget of the City Government.
City Budget Officer Marietta Gumia said they started processing last Tuesday the payroll for the salaries and wages of City Hall employees using this year’s annual appropriation.
It was also last Tuesday that she received a copy of the budget ordinance covering the 2016 annual budget.
But while it has no signature from Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella, Gumia said the budget ordinance has a notation, or a remark, from the Sangguniang Panlungsod Secretariat, which says “deemed approved.”
“I have nothing to do because there is a direction to execute (the budget),” the budget officer said when interviewed yesterday, apparently referring to the resolution passed by the legislative body on Jan. 6 where they directed the budget office to enforce the 2016 annual budget.
Earlier, the local finance committee, to which the budget office is a member, did not immediately implement the 2016 annual budget since Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella and members of the majority bloc of the council had an opposing stand on the validity of the 2016 budget ordinance.
Labella had informed the council he cannot act on the ordinance because it lacks one vote for it to be validly passed.
The majority bloc, though, reiterated that the ordinance, which was approved last Dec. 18 through a 9-4 vote, is valid.
While they are already using the 2016 annual budget, Gumia said yesterday that it will still be reviewed by the Department of Budget and Management, the agency tasked to scrutinize appropriations of a local government unit.
At the Session Hall yesterday, the minority bloc headed by Councilor Gerardo Carillo yielded to the majority bloc’s stand directing the executive to enforce the 2016 annual budget.
“Although I opposed the last time on the resolution directing the executive to implement this year’s annual budget, I now agree with a heavy heart and much understanding that the executive should implement the annual budget. The majority rules. So we should go on with the annual budget,” he said.
Councilor Margarita Osmeña, chairperson of the council’s committee on budget and finance, encouraged members of the minority bloc to attend any deliberations on a budget so their concerns will be immediately tackled.
Meanwhile, suspended Mayor Michael Rama said yesterday the P20,000 calamity assistance that former city councilor Atty. Joy Pesquera returned to the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) on his behalf is “invalid.”
He said he had nothing to do with it, adding that he won’t ask his former girlfriend to get the money back.
“I did not make any payment. Di ko moingon ipa-refund kay wa man ko nihimo ana (I’m not going to say to have the money refunded since I had nothing to do with it). But they should know better what to do,” he said.
Pesquera, in a separate interview yesterday, said as far as he is concerned, her move will not affect the stand of the City Government, which has been fighting the case filed against them by Atty. Reymelio Delute.
“It is because I am not an employee of the City. I am a private citizen,” she said.
Delute filed an administrative complaint before the Office of the President, questioning the validity of the release of the calamity assistance to City Hall officials and employees.
Pesquera admitted Rama did not know she went to the CTO to return his P20,000 assistance from the City.
“Kabaw man ko nga mobalibad gyud to even sa iyang reaction karon nga wala siya malipay (I knew Rama would refuse and judging by his reaction, I know he was not happy with my action),” she said.
Talks have been circulating that Rama might be suspended again over the release of the calamity assistance.
Pesquera said she returned the P20,000 in Rama’s behalf because of speculations that only Team Rama allies will be suspended for the cash release.
Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan councilors will not be included because they returned their calamity assistance and they are allied with the Liberal Party, she said.
But if Malacañang rules that city officials and employees are entitled to receive the calamity assistance, Pesquera said she wants the P20,000 she gave to the CTO to be donated to the new Cebu City Medical Center.
Pesquera was asked over the radio yesterday if what she did was out of her “love” for Rama.
She replied: “I’m with Team Rama. I’m standing for Team Rama. I’m standing for what I believe is right. Whether we have a relationship or previous relationship, it’s none of the business sa nangutana (of the person asking).”