MOBILE SESSION. Cagayan Provincial Board holds a mobile session in the Legislative Hall of Enrile, Cagayan and tackles issues on the Mamba administration's proposed medium-term and annual plans, and 2018 budget, Photo by Gerard Lucena

SP Cagayan seeks oversight agencies’ opinion on Mamba’s proposed budget

Gerard Josef Lucena

Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Cagayan has sought for the opinion of various oversight government agencies in an attempt to further the discussion of the updated medium-term plan, and the 2018 Annual Plan and Executive Budget.

“In order to avoid any impression of politicking and in order to be guided what action the CFA (Committee on Finance and Appropriation) should meet, we decided to seek the assistance of concerned national agencies,” Vargas said in a mobile session in Enrile town on Thursday, March 8.

The board had earlier returned the Provincial Development and Investment Program (PDIP) 2018-2022, Annual Investment Program (AIP) 2018, and the 2018 Annual Budget to the executive department after the CFA found out “discrepancies” and “inconsistencies” in Mamba’s development plan.

Through a letter on Wednesday, February 28, Governor Manuel Mamba, as Provincial Development Council (PDC) chair, responded to SP’s remand.

The provincial board, however, noted that Mamba did not convene the PDC, which comprised mayors of the province, contrary to their earlier recommendation.

SP also gave the executive department 10 working days to correct alleged irregularities in their updated PDIP. (READ: Cagayan board remands PDIP, gives PDC 10 days to ‘correct irregularities’)

4 queries raised

As chairman of the CFA, Vargas wrote a letter to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The CFA raised the following queries:

  1. Whether or not the governor although the chairman of the PDC may opt not to present the Sanggunian’s recommendation to the PDC en banc;
  2.  Whether or not the governor, although the chairman of the PDC, may respond to the sanggunian in his own instance;
  3. Whether or not the response of the governor can be regarded as the official response of the PDC despite the latter being a collegial body; and
  4. Whether or not there was a valid resubmission of the updated PDIP, 2018 AIP, and the 2018 annual budget.

The CFA set a committee hearing with representatives from the said national agencies on Friday, March 9, but was cancelled due to unavailability of the officials.

While waiting for oversight agencies to attend, Vargas said the CFA will instead continue its study on the updated PDIP, AIP, and budget.

The move is also a result of the board’s position that the governor’s response cannot be taken on plenary.

“The governor is not the PDC. The resolution is addressed to the PDC and it must be acted by the PDC. Although he is the chairman, he does not comprise the whole PDC. Therefore, they must take action on the resolution and present it to PDC members for discussion,” Floor Leader and Second District Board Member Vilmer Viloria said.

Meanwhile, Third District Board Member Perla Tumaliuan reiterated that SP only “did its duty” in ensuring the soundness of the budget through review.

“Paulit-ulit na lang po tayo. We [referring to the executive] never learn of the processes. At this juncture, we stop political bickering. At this juncture, [we] have one more year to go, but we haven’t proved, this set of officials of the province of Cagayan, why so? Because we continue doing the wrong thing and that is not compliant to the processes set forth by the local government code…There are prerequisites and requirements that we shall do,” Tumaliuan said.

In an earlier interview, Vargas reiterated that the SP cannot alter the PDIP and only the PDC en banc can do so. The PDIP, oversight agencies earlier said, is the basis for the annual plan and budget, and must be tackled first by the SP.

“If they want to fast-track, we want to fast track this budget, they must comply with the observations and recommendations of the sangguniang panlalawigan,” Vargas said.

SP Cagayan is expected to hold their next regular session on Wednesday, March 14, and will tackle no other agenda but the budget until its approval. Northernforum.net