Job order workers in Kidapawan’s City Council to stage protest over passage of annual budget 

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 15 November) — Supporters of Kidapawan City vice-mayor Jivy Roe ‘Jiv-Jiv’ Bombeo and Councilor Ruby Padilla-Sison will stage a vigil and prayer rally at 8 p.m. on Sunday to protest the alleged illegal passage of the city’s 2021 budget.

The rally will be held in front of  City Hall, the vice mayor said.

Most of the protesters are Job Order employees from the Office of the Vice-Mayor; Office of the Sangguniang Panlungsod; and Office of the Secretary to the Sangguniang Panglungsod — whose jobs at the city hall are set to end December this year.

The rally, according to one of the staffmembers of Bombeo, is centered on the alleged illegal passage of the 2021 Annual Budget for the city.

Landmark in Kidapawan City. MindaNews file photo by JULES BENITEZ

Earlier, Bombeo said the service contract of around 170 Job Order and Contract of Service (COS) workers of the legislative council will end by December due to lack of funds for next year’s salaries and honorarium which will be taken from the Maintenance Operating and Other Expenses (MOOE).

Bombeo said the budget cut for the council’s MOOE in 2021 is huge. “From P23 million, our budget for MOOE next year is estimated only at P1.3 million.”

The City Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2021, amounting to PhP 1.053 billion, was prepared by the Local Finance Committee headed by Mayor Joseph Evangelista in the executive department.  The budget was submitted to the Sanggunian for deliberation and its subsequent approval in early October.

But Bombeo, upon learning of the sizable cut in his budget, allegedly tried to delay its passage, according to some councilors.

Sison said what the 12 members of the council did was ‘death of democracy’ in the city. She called Mayor Joseph Arellano Evangelista a dictator, accusing him of ordering the passage of the annual budget.

Evangelista said the Local Finance Committee did not cut Bombeo’s budget for MOOE but transferred it to another account, which is, “Support to Executive and Legislative Services” amounting to P34 million.

“It is not true that we cut Vice-Mayor Bombeo’s budget and the office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian… it is just that we transferred the account to a new account’ which is more than their budget in 2020,” he said.

On November 5, during the Sanggunian’s regular session, 12 councilors passed the annual budget after they allegedly grabbed power from the presiding officer.

The councilors elected Kagawad Junares John Amador as the Sanggunian’s temporary presiding officer and Kagawad Lauro Taynan, Jr., as Secretary to the council and passed the budget around 8 p.m., on November 5.

Bombeo considered the councilors’ act illegal and immoral.

“I was there, present at the session hall, yet, they grabbed the power from me to ensure the passage of the budget,” said the vice-mayor.

The City Council has 14 members. Bombeo and Sison alleged the passage of the budget was illegal.

Evangelista, in a media interview on Wednesday, said the councilors did what was best for the interest of the people, especially in the local government’s fight against Covid-19.

“When Vice-Mayor Bombeo and Councilor Sison tried to delay the passage of the annual budget, they were doing disservice or more harm to the people.  Also, we might run out of ime.  Remember, we need to bid our purchases, projects and programs for next year, especially in our campaign against Covid-19,” the mayor said.

Believing the process last November 5 was illegal, Bombeo said he will file criminal and administrative charges against the ‘super majority’.

This is apart from the charges that Bombeo filed at the Office of the Ombudsman last September 28, 2020 when the ‘super majority’ passed in August this year the Supplemental Budget Number 9, which amounted to P24 million, even without his approval.

The 12 councilors were charged of violating Section 3[e] of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; grave abuse of authority, gross negligence, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public.

Included in the charge sheet were Kidapawan City councilors Melvin Lamata, Jr., Maritess Malaluan, Gregorio Lonzaga, Aljo Cris Dizon, Airene Claire Pagal, Carlo Agamon, Lauro Taynan, Jr., Cenn Teena Taynan, Morgan Melodias, Radin Igwas, Peter Salac, and Junares John Amador.   (Malu Cadelina-Manar / MindaNews)