CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/18 December) – There is no Christmas truce in the Misamis Oriental capitol as Governor Oscar Moreno maintains he would veto the budget being pushed by the opposition in the Sangguniang Panglalawigan (SP) which introduced deep cuts amounting to about P50-million in the budget of the office of the Governor.
But the PaDayon Pilipino members in the SP are unruffled as their number reached two-thirds of the 13-seat local legislative body with the resounding win of barangay chair Arsenio “Jun” Khu as president of the Provincial Association of Barangay Council Presidents last Friday.
Khu told Mindanews that he credits his victory for the second time as ABC president, to the support of the leader of PaDayon Pilipino, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente “Dongkoy” Emano.
The ABC president in the province has a seat in the SP.
Khu was sworn into office by Misamis Oriental 1st district Rep. Pedro Unabia last Friday. Emano’s son, Rep. Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano (2nd district) was also present when Khu got 23 out of the 25 votes for the ABC presidency.
Khu will take his seat in the SP on Monday, in time for the continuation of the deliberation of the proposed P1.2-billion budget for 2001.
Rep. Emano told Mindanews that they should not be faulted for having the numbers in the SP. “Ing-ana man gyud ang pulitika, siguro nakita sa katawhan nga maayo among pagdumala mao nga ilang gi suportahan ang PaDayon Pilipino” (Politics is like that. I guess the people saw how well we’ve managed, so they are supporting PaDayon Pilipino), he said.
Khu is ABC president of one of the smallest municipalities in Misamis Oriental, Sugbongcogon, the hometown of Unabia.
Unabia praised the barangay captains from the 25 Misamis Oriental towns for renewing their trust in Khu.
SP member Geodeguil Ursal said they would push for the budget cuts in the Provincial Governor’s Office on Monday and realign some proposed items there in favor of nspecific agencies of the provincial government.
He said the Poverty Alleviation budget of P11.48 million in the Governor’s Office will be slashed to P3 million and the rest would be realigned to the budget of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development budget, he said.
He said they also plan to cut the budget for Sports Development from P10-M to P2-M. “Alang alang man og i-dribble-dribble lang nila ang buhis sa katawhan” (They shouldn’t play with taxpayers’ money), Ursal said referring to the Sports Development budget proposed by Moreno.
Moreno, a basketball and boxing aficionado minced no words in responding to the opposition. “I will veto the 2011 Budget Ordinance if it is against the core principles of my administration.”
He said that what his detractors have not realized is that under his administration, he has spent well the budget of the province. “How can I build classrooms, roads, hospitals and improve basic service like PhilHealth coverage if my administration did not put to good use the budget of the province,” Moreno told MindaNews.
Taking a swipe at Mayor Emano, he said that while he does “not mind if Dongkoy’s sports are mahjong and jackstone, I don’t know how they enjoy life and how they get motivated without sports.”
“Instead of introducing cuts in the budget and planning to pass a measure that would provide amnesty to delinquent real estate tax payers, the SP better pass measures to increase the provincial government’s collection,” he said.
Moreno, who is in his last term as governor is expected to be pitted against Mayor Emano for the mayoralty of Cagayan de Oro in 2013. The younger Emano is said to be groomed for the governorship.
Mayor Emano was mayor of Tagoloan town when he was appointed OIC governor of Misamis Oriental after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. He was elected governor from 1988 to 1998, mayor of Cagayan de Oro City from 1998 to 2007, vice mayor of the city from 2007 to 2010 and was again elected mayor in May.
Ursal said that with their number reaching 10 in the 13-member SP, they are sure to overrule a veto by Moreno on the budget.
But Moreno said, “I am not afraid of their numbers, they can override my veto but that will not mean that they are ever right. I am not afraid of Dongkoy and his men as I was not afraid to prosecute Pres. Estrada during his impeachment as Congressman.”
Moreno was one of the Prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Pres. Joseph Estrada in 2000 and 2001. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)