Friday, November 17, 2017

Mayor Cruz knocks down VM Imperial



2017 ANNUAL BUDGET CONTROVERSY

NAGA CITY 11/17/17 (Bicol Standard)— Branch 27 of the Regional Trial Court under Presiding Judge Leo L. Intia here has ordered the Sangguniang Bayan of Pamplona, Camarines Sur to cease and desist from implementing Appropriation Ordinance No. 2017, until the issues raised in the main case are resolved or until this Order is revoked or annulled.

This order, which was issued on November 6, 2017, stemmed from a complaint filed by Augustus Caesar “Ace” M. Cruz III, incumbent mayor of Pamplona, against the Sangguniang Bayan members of the said town, headed by Vice Mayor Gemino A. Imperial.

Other officials who were impleaded as defendants in the said case were the members of the municipal council, namely: Joselito S. Legaspi, Renato A. Buendia, Felix E. Rifarial, Nilda A. Donacao, Marlene L. Raymundo and Lourdes B. Butial.

The case is for the Declaration of Nullity of Appropriation Ordinance no. 2017-01, Resolutions Nos. 2017-04, 2017-004 (C) and 2017-004 (B), with prayer for temporary restraining order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction.

The issue
Mayor Cruz, the plaintiff in this case, recommended an executive budget amounting to P106,108,449.25 to cover the expenses for the year 2017.

The Sangguniang Bayan, however, reduced the said amount to only P66,508,638.93.

Mayor Cruz noted that the municipal council glaringly scrapped the entire mandatory allocation for the Municipal Economic Development Fund which amounts to P18,016,568.00.00.

The same fund was transferred to the un-appropriated balance.

Meanwhile, Mayor Cruz insisted that the said budgetary allocation is mandated under the Local Government Code, hence it should not be removed as it is an essential part of the annual budget, nor be left under the so-called “un-appropriated amount.”

The chief executive also emphasized that the Local Government Code clearly mandates that “it shall appropriate in its annual budget no less than twenty per cent (20%) of its annual internal revenue allotment for development project.”

“By not appropriating any amount for the Municipal Development Projects, the Sangguniang Bayan has overstretched its powers beyond its limits, and against the mandate guaranteed by the Local Government Code,” Cruz said.

At the same time, the reviewing officer of the said Appropriation Ordinance clearly stated that “non-provision of the required 20% of Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for development projects shall render the budget inoperative in its entirety, as provided by law.”

5% Calamity Fund

The 5% Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) which amounts to P5,305,422.46 was also classified by the Sangguniang Bayan as “Lump Sum Appropriation.”

Mayor Cruz said this is not in conformity with the provisions of Republic Act (R.A.) 7160 in relation to R.A. 10121.

In addition, the defendants in this case also provided an additional requirement, before the calamity funds could be utilized.

They (the defendants) insisted that before utilizing the calamity funds, a state of calamity shall be declared by both the Province of Camarines Sur and the Municipality of Pamplona.

“Without both declarations, the utilization of calamity funds is considered illegal for all intents and purposes,” the defendants insisted.

This matter, however, was questioned by Mayor Cruz. He said the resolution passed by the municipal council is an act ultra vires that must be struck down.

Relief prayed for

Until and unless restrained, defendants will continue to block the actual disbursement of funds for projects, programs and activities slated for calendar year 2017, according to Cruz.

“Hence, our constituents will continue to suffer,” he said.

“Moreover, the town will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury inasmuch as I can be accused of not doing my job and implementing programs, projects and activities lined up for 2017 based on the prepared budget,” he added.

During the hearing of the Application for the Issuance of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order, Cruz testified to prove his allegations in support of the application.

Defendants, through counsel, manifested that they are not presenting evidence and will instead file a memorandum.
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