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Cagayan vice gov still hoping for executive-legislative agenda

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Cagayan Vice Governor Melvin “Boy” Vargas Jr said he is still hoping for an Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA) between Governor Manuel Mamba and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), in crafting an annual Budget.

“I suggested to the consultant of the governor, si former Board Member [Jenerwin] Bacuyag, to conduct an ELA if they are willing. I’m still hoping that there will be an ELA para smooth-sailing sana itong proposal nila ng budget [at] ng plano,” Vargas told the media after their 70th regular session on Friday, January 5.

The vice governor said Governor Mamba “took note” of conducting an ELA.

He added that the ELA is “vital” for the SP, noting that there is “communication if the ELA will prosper.”

In local governments, the ELA is a mutually developed and agreed upon plan of the executive and legislative which contain the major thrusts and priorities of both branches.

Unlike previous years, the provincial government did not conduct an ELA in crafting the 2017 and 2018 budget proposals despite calls from SP.

The 2017 budget was approved only on December 1 while the 2018 budget is currently on plenary. The latter proposal was submitted October 19, slightly behind the mandated October 16 deadline of the local government code.

Cagayan Vice Governor Boy Vargas tells the media that they will “follow” the legality and process of approving the budget, after their first regular session for 2018 on Friday, January 5. Photo by Gerard Lucena.

Meanwhile, Cagayan Provincial Information Officer-in-Charge Rogelio Sending clarified that the governor did not close his doors to the SP, adding these were taken out of context.

In a virtual media conference on Friday afternoon, Sending said an ELA is not obliged by law and that it is only by discretion of a chief executive.

Yet, Sending said he will still refer to Governor Mamba regarding the idea of an ELA for 2019.

2018 Budget

In their first session on Friday, the provincial board began discussing the 2018 Annual Investment Plan and Budget and maintained their stand to follow the process and legality of approving the proposals.

The board noticed that the 2018 proposals were based on an updated Provincial development and Investment Program (PDIP) they have yet to approve. The SP earlier approved a PDIP on October 4, 2017.

“Being keepers of the purse, [we’re for] legality. Sinasabi nilang ministerial po kami, hindi kami ministerial. We are duty-bound to protect [and] we are duty bound to look after the budget of the province,” Vargas said.

“As long as it’s for the common good… Lahat naman po tayo ang after naman natin is the welfare of the people. Sad to say nagkaroon po ng rift pero dumaan naman po tayo sa tamang proseso,” he added.

(READ: TIMELINE: The delayed approval of Cagayan’s 2017 Budget)

The SP’s Committee on Finance and Appropriation, headed by Vargas, and Provincial Planning and Development Officer Elisa Umoso will hold a hearing on Monday, January 8, to fast track the deliberation. Northernforum.net

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