Proposed 2021 budget for Kidapawan City council “almost zero”

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 16 October) – The proposed 2021 budget prepared by the office of the city mayor has reduced the allocation for the city council by 99.8 percent compared to this year’s allotment.

City Councilor Ruby Padilla-Sison, who described Mayor Joseph Evangelista’s move as “despotic”, said the council was only given a budget of P36,000 for next year.

The office of the secretary to the city council was given the same amount, or a cut of 98.9 percent, Sison said.

Arc at the entrance to Kidapawan City. MindaNews photo by GEONARRI SOLMERANO

She added the office of the vice mayor will have a budget of P1.3 million, or a P19-million decrease compared to this year’s appropriation of P20.3 million.

As per the Local Government Code, the vice mayor presides the city council.

In a privilege speech Thursday, Sison, who chairs the committee on human rights said the budget proposal “would frustrate their duty to scrutinize public spending and to deliberate the budget.”

On several occasions since the pandemic started, Sison has opposed the passage of the proposed ordinances on supplemental budget citing the failure of the mayor to liquidate expenditures using such appropriation.

“The mayor was well aware that before they could have another supplemental budget, they must liquidate first the previous supplemental budget. On several instances, the mayor violated such provision,” she said.

Supplemental Budget Nos. 8 and 9, which amounted to P13 million and P23 million, respectively, were passed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

The councilor surmised that the disagreements between the city council and Sison over the supplemental budget proposals could have triggered the mayor’s decision to propose an “almost zero” budget for the local legislature.

“It is very ironic that right in [sic] our very own noses, a rightful budget for the three offices in the legislative department would be unreasonably reduced at the behest of the executive,” she said in her privilege speech.

She claimed the mayor’s move threatens the principle of separation of powers and independence of each office which may lead to “constitutional and organizational crisis.”

In her speech, she reminded her 12 colleagues in the council of the powers vested upon them by the Local Government Code of 1991, specifically legislative oversight and that they hold the power to review, which is an “integral part of the constitutional system of check-and-balance.”

Sison accused her colleagues of having the “propensity to follow” the mayor’s order and called them the “super majority.”

The council has 10 regular and three ex-officio members.

For his part, Evangelista explained that the power and authority to approve and appropriate the General Appropriations Ordinance rests with the city council.

“Let’s just wait and honor the duty of our Sanggunian,” he said in a text message.

The budget deliberation will start next week, Sison said. (Malu Cadeliña Manar/MindaNews)