CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Misamis Oriental’s delivery of basic services and its anti-Coronavirus measures could be adversely affected as a local court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the provincial government from disbursing out of its P3.58 billion 2020 budget.
The two-page TRO was issued by Judge Vincent Rosales of the Regional Trial Court Branch 23 on June 29 for the provincial government’s failure to post the contents of the appropriations ordinance in noticeable places. It would expire on July 19.
It was petitioned by Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar Pelaez and Provincial Legislative Board members Jessa Josephine Mugot and Jerry Khu on June 26.
On July 2, Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano ordered all department heads at the Provincial Capitol to suspend all disbursement operations until the TRO is lifted.
He noted his administration has yet to establish the motive why the opposition members of the provincial legislative body have to “sacrifice the implementation of basic services” especially in the province’s eight hospitals, jail and rehabilitation center, infrastructure projects, financial assistance to cooperatives, financial aid to returning overseas Filipino workers, local stranded individuals, and the general public.
Effect on COVID-19 measures
Emano said the temporary shutdown of the provincial government would affect its anti-COVID-19 measures.
“Inasmuch as we wanted to implement projects (relative to COVID-19), we cannot legally do so due to the said TRO,” he said.
He shared they would face the legal action with the help of their lawyers as he assured that the provincial government will continue to serve the public “with all available technical assistance”.
Meanwhile, lawyer Jeffrey Saclot, spokesperson for the province’s COVID-19 Task Force, said the TRO “has affected the whole operation of the provincial government,” in a phone interview on Friday, July 3.
He added the province has already disbursed of at least P5 million for the returning stranded individuals and overseas workers. The amount, he noted, was spent for the fuel of the vehicles used to ferry the arriving residents, maintenance of isolation facilities, food, and other expenses.
The provincial government has yet to give the exact number of the returning residents and the capacity of its isolation units, but Saclot said more Misamisnons are expected to arrive as there is scheduled mass repatriation from Luzon this weekend.
Saclot said lawyer Neil Pacana, the provincial legal officer, has already filed an extreme urgent motion to lift the TRO on Thursday, July 9.
As of this posting, Pelaez has yet to issue a statement on why they filed the TRO. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)