THE Cebu City Council of four had a change of heart.
After rejecting the P6-billion proposed annual budget of Acting Mayor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña last Monday, it decided to revive it during their regular session yesterday, the second to the last session of the 2013-2016 legislative body before its term ends on June 30.
Citing pity for the City Hall employees, Councilor Richard Osmeña made a privilege motion and asked that the deliberation on the annual budget be continued.
“In view of the recent development concerning the budget having been rejected and faced with the fact that the bonus of our employees will be good as dead, I move that this council will revive the 2016 annual budget and consider the same for further deliberations,” he said.
The P6-billion proposed annual appropriation submitted by the acting mayor covers, among others, the P88 million for the employees’ mid-year bonus.
Based on the records of the City Budget Office, around 5,200 employees will benefit from it. The bonus, if approved, will be equivalent to the employees’ one month salary.
Margot, when sought for comment about the matter, welcomed the development.
“That is good. I am happy for the employees,” she said.
It was Councilor James Cuenco who said last Monday that the proposed annual budget should be returned as it would be prudent for it to be discussed by the new council. He said it will be better if there will be more minds sharing their thoughts on the matter.
Cuenco added that the move was a party decision of Team Rama, who will compose the majority of the legislative body starting July 1.
But yesterday, the revival of the discussions for this year’s proposed annual budget was the decision just among the three Team Rama members of the current council that includes Councilor Osmeña, Cuenco and ex-officio member Philip Zafra.
The move was supported by Acting Vice Mayor Lea Japson.
“We decided on our own. It is a conscious thing for us primarily because of the plight of the City employees. Most of them will also be out of their job especially the casuals by June 30 so it is only but Christian to give it a chance,” Cuenco said.
“Only fools don’t change their mind,” he added.
Cuenco said the revival of the annual budget can be done since he didn’t make a resolution officially denying or returning the annual budget. He said he would have filed a covering resolution yesterday, but decided against it.
Japson is also happy with the move of the three councilors, considering that incoming Mayor Tomas Osmeña disclosed that he has no plans of submitting a new annual budget for this year.
“At least, naa nay makita nga hayag nga bonus ang atong mga empleyado,” she said.
Aside from the mid-year bonus, Margot’s proposed annual budget also covers the P392-million amortization for the South Road Properties this year; P10-million terminal leave benefits, P5 million of which are for the last-termer councilors; P5 million for Christmas activities; P2 million for the renovation of the Office of the Mayor; and P6 million for the rehabilitation of medical and dental vans, among others.
Outgoing and currently suspended Mayor Michael Rama, when asked about the move of the Team Rama councilors, said he believes that the budget submitted by Margot should not be the one tackled by the legislative body.
Rather, it should have been his previous P9.8-billion revised annual budget. It had been returned by the council to the executive, though, several weeks ago.
Rama, who called for a press conference in one of the local restaurants along Mango Ave., questioned how an acting mayor submit an annual budget.
“I’m still the mayor until June 30. I’m just suspended,” he said.
Rama intends to meet with all the Team Rama councilors to discuss the matter.
The council of four, though, has scheduled a special session on Monday so they can submit a committee report about the proposed annual budget.
They will possibly pass the appropriation ordinance covering this year’s annual appropriation by Wednesday, their last session day before a new council assumes.