TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- With the 2018 budget still on deliberation, Cagayan’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) said they cannot approve yet the proposed Local Road Network and Development Plan (LRNDP) of the province.
Cagayan Vice Governor Melvin “Boy” Vargas Jr said in session on Wednesday, March 21, approving the LRNDP would first need an approved annual budget.
Vargas said approving such would only “circumvent” the requirements of the budgeting process, stressing that they should follow the procedure mandated by the local government code.
SP earlier cited several “irregularities” in the budget proposal’s various programs, projects, and activities.
“We cannot tackle this matter pending the approval of the budget. Wala pong basis ang approval natin dito sa resolution, we will not comply with the requirements. We should not insist on doing things that are not sanctioned by the law,” Vargas said during session.
The Provincial Development Council- Executive Committee (PDC-ExeCom) adopted and approved the proposed LRNDP on Friday, March 16.
The LRNDP is five-year plan to develop identified roads in the province. It is also a requisite for the downloading of P89 million road concreting funds this year under the Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces for Road Repair,Rehabilitation and Improvement (CMGP) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
In a resolution, PDC-ExeCom gave SP until the end of March to approve the said road network plan.
Yet, the board received this proposal only on Wednesday, March 21.
“Hindi naman po puwede na stamp pad ang sangguniang panlalawigan. May I ask you a question therefore, to the governor, how can we approve this local road network development plan until the end of March if the same has just been endorsed to us?” Vargas said.
No ‘notice to proceed’
Meanwhile, the board said they received a report that the province has yet to receive any “notice to proceed” for its road concreting projects under the 2016 Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan ang Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran (KALSADA) program, the precursor of the CMGP. SP said Mamba has yet to implement the program.
Ex-officio Board Member Maila Ting-Que said the executive department cannot pressure the SP into approving the LRNDP and the executive budget given such limited time.
Ting-Que noted that the 2018 CMGP fund is anchored on the 2016 KALSADA implementation.
“Bago po kayo mabigyan ng CMGP 2018, kailangang meron nang nagalaw doon sa 2016 Kalsada program. Otherwise, the deadline is also March at ‘pag walang notice to proceed, at wala na namang nangyaring galawan diyan sa 2016 kalsada, kahit ipasa natin ang budget ngayon, hindi ibibigay sa atin yung 2018 CMGP,” Ting-Que explained.
The board member said she personally got information from DILG national headquaters.
“I do not know why it is now incumbent upon us to mamadaliin n’yo kami wala naman kayong binibigay na kopya, iisang piraso [pa at] naka CD pa yung iba,” she added.
Further, Vargas also questioned the timing of PDC-ExeCom’s adoption of the plan.
“We were set a deadline of to the end of March, alam naman po nating magbabakasyon yung ibang board members why now lang po gumawa ng provincial network plan? While in fact dapat matagal na pong nagawa yan,” Vargas said.
Meanwhile, administration ally Board Members Ross Reusello and Rodrigo De Asis suggested that local finance committee members be invited to answer the board’s queries. De Asis also asked the board to have a timetable and “maximize” their time in conducting budget hearings.
Earlier this year, Governor Manuel Mamba and Cagayan Provincial Information Office (CPIO) blamed the SP for the forfeiture of over P328 million funds for road concreting projects as a result of the delayed approval of the 2017 budget.
In defense, the SP said the loss of funds was Mamba’s fault, saying that the governor failed to submit on time the budegt proposal, as well as Mamba’s realignment of road concreting funds from towns of Baggao and Lal-lo to Tuao and Santo Niño towns.
In light of a possible “attack” from CPIO, which has been critical of the SP, Vargas said they will not trade verbal assaults on air with the office.
“Let us be procedural rather than we will lower down our level and fight with their airtime in the media. We’ll just go with the procedure [and] we’ll just go with the process,” Vargas told media after session.
Vargas instead urged Mamba to act on the issue. He also asked Mamba to convene the PDC en banc and refine “irregularities” in the budget, as suggested by SP.
“Just a friendly reminder lang po sa BAC [Bids and Awards Committee] as well as the executive department that they should act into it so that we will again be blessed with another CMGP,” Vargas said.
Further, the vice governor said this issue is now responsibility of the executive department, adding that it is wrong information, if ever, to blame the SP. Northernforum.net