CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management in the region (DBM-10) has not reviewed Misamis Oriental province’s P3.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 and has instead returned the appropriation ordinances back to the Capitol for lack of necessary requirements.
Letters from the DMB-10 separately addressed to Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar Pelaez and Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano indicated that it did not go over the province’s annual budget because of the lack of signatures.
“I did not sign it as it did not reach my office,” Pelaez told reporters on Saturday, July 4, during a press conference following the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) session.
As the presiding officer of the provincial legislative board, his signature is needed in the annual budget and other pertinent documents. He added that copies of the annual budget were not posted in conspicuous public places as one of the requisites.
The alleged non-compliance of DBM-10’s requirements was one of the grounds why a local court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO), barring the provincial government from spending its annual and supplemental budgets.
The TRO, which will expire July 19, was issued upon the petition of Pelaez and his SP allies, Board Members Jessa Josephine Mugot and Jerry Khu.
In response, Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano ordered a suspension of disbursements at the Provincial Capitol until the TRO is lifted.
Details of the DBM letter
In its March 4, 2020 letter to Emano and the SP members, the DBM-10 said it returned the Appropriation Ordinances 1445-2019 and 1458-2020 of the provincial government because these “lack the required signatories and/or the officials who signed in said documents are not the appropriate signatories.”
AO 1445-2019 refers to the province’s annual budget for 2020 enacted on Nov. 18, 2019 while AO 1458-2020 is the supplemental budget enacted on Feb. 10, 2020.
Among the signatories of the AOs are the SP secretary (lawyer Ernesto Sotto Jr.), presiding officer (Pelaez), local chief executive (Emano), and local planning and budget officers.
The other supporting documents submitted by the SP as required under local budget memorandum 78 dated May 15, 2019, the DBM-10 said, “has no signatures but were only stamped ‘Original Signed.’ The same should only be duly signed by appropriate/authorized signatories as provided per [Budget Operations Manual].”
Pelaez said the appropriation ordinances cannot be implemented as “we have seen that there was a violation.” He feared that should they insist on using the annual budget, which is illegal, they could be facing legal action that could land them in jail.
In their petition to the court, Pelaez and his allies alleged that the Budget Ordinance submitted to DBM-10 “was substantially different” from what was approved during the SP’s 17th Regular Session and that there were post-approval inclusions which were “unauthorized”.
The Budget Ordinance for 2020, the petitioners claimed, is “invalid” for the following reasons:
First, the majority members changed the amount of budgetary item under Other Special Purpose Appropriations specifically Personnel Benefits from P77.5 million to P9 million – a very substantial reduction, they said.
Second, the majority members inserted another item of an expense under the same Other Special Purpose Appropriations specifically Unappropriated Balance in the amount of P68.5 million – a direct violation of Article 415 of the IRR of RA 7160 which provides that the SP may not increase the proposed amount in the executive budget nor include new items except to provide for statutory and contractual obligations, they added.
Pelaez has appealed to Emano to re-enact the 2019 budget so that funds could be released for the operations of the province’s vital facilities like its hospitals and jail, while this year’s annual budget could not yet be utilized. (davaotoday.com)