Kidapawan has no budget yet for comprehensive fight vs virus – official

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 22 October) – The city has no budget yet for a comprehensive plan to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an official told the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Answering a query by Vice Mayor Jivy Roe Bombeo during the budget hearing Tuesday, City Health Officer Dr. Jocelyn Incienzo said her office was only allotted P600,000 for anti-COVID response in the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Ordinance.

“But for the city’s comprehensive plan to fight the virus, I do not know if there is,” she said.

A local legislator here quizzed a health official for the alleged failure of the city government to include in the 2021 annual budget funding against the dreaded Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Bombeo was informed the City Planning and Development Office was still working on a plan against COVID-19 with support from the Inter-Agency Task Force and the local finance committee.

Kidapawan City’s temporary treatment and monitoring facility for COVID-19 patients is now open 24/7. The facility was inaugurated on July 20. Photo courtesy of the City Government of Kidapawan

“I hope they can finish that as soon as possible. Kasi, pag hindi (If not), no budget will be allotted for it in 2021. Ang mangyayari niyan, puro supplemental budget na lang ang ating gagawin (What will happen is we’ll keep making supplemental budgets),” he said.

The city has a temporary treatment and monitoring facility inside the Kidapawan City Hospital, which, as of Wednesday, was attending to 11 active COVID cases who were all symptomatic.

It has two isolation facilities and several quarantine stations in 40 barangays.

The city has 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases with one death, according to the City IATF and City Information Office.

Bombeo also said he was “utterly frustrated and upset” that Mayor Joseph Evangelista had only given his office a P1.3-million budget for maintenance, operating and other expenses (MOOE) for 2021 in contrast to the P20-million allocation he received this year.

“How can we operate with this almost zero funding?’ he said.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian were only allotted P36,000 each for MOOE next year.

“What can we get from the P36,000 as MOOE? We can’t even buy office supplies for the whole year. There will be no more allocations for fuel and training. Ano na ngayon (What now)?” SP Secretary Atty. Cristopher Cabelin said.

Bombeo said he was surprised that none of the 12 council members comprising the majority opposed the “almost zero funding”a for their office.

“What does this mean? Could there be an ‘under-the-table negotiations’ between them and City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, that was why none of them will talk or give comment?” he said.

Evangelista refused to comment on Bombeo’s statement, saying the approval of the 2021 budget rests with the Sanggunian. (Malu Cadeliña Manar/MindaNews)