BUDGET ROW: Veto a boon for Joe III, backfires on opposition

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO City Mayor Jose Espinosa III said he partially vetoed some of the items in the 2019 annual budget to avoid confusion and chaos.

In fact, Espinosa’s action bodes well for his administration and can be considered a blowback to the opposition laden City Council.

“Generally, may mga kakulangan ang paghimo sang annual budget ordinance so kinahanglan to not confuse and create chaos, gin-veto ko,” Espinosa said.

A veto is the right of the chief executive to reject a decision or proposal made by a law-making body like the City Council.

Espinosa signed the P2.318-billion 2019 annual budget on Dec 27, 2019 for but with partial vetoes, particularly on the budget for the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

In fact, the 2019 budget is seen as beneficial for the mayor’s office after Espinosa vetoed the more than P121.6 million MOOE budget for his office. If the council cannot override the veto, the mayor’s office will use the reenacted 2018 MOOE budget for the mayor’s office amounting to more than P672.9 million.

Instead of slashing the mayor’s budget, the veto basically increased the MOOE allocation.

City Administrator Hernando Galvez said earlier that Espinosa particularly vetoed the MOEE budget which was divided into tranches, including the controversial allocation for the Local Youth and Development Office (LYDO) which was initially slashed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

“Napirmahan na ni mayor ang budget and approved na pero may gin-veto lang siya ang MOEE sa mayor’s office and tanan nga ginpang-seperate. Pati ang hambal nila nga i-zero budget ang office ni Jason Gregorio, LYDO head, gin-veto man ni mayor,” he explained.

The council approved the P2.318-billion budget on December 12, 2018 after introducing a new mechanism of splitting into two tranches the MOOE and the capital outlay of the chief executive and members of the Sanggunian.

Under the new mechanism, the City Hall offices can only spend half of the budget in the first six months of 2019 while the remaining will be disbursed in the second half of the year.

Councilor Plaridel Nava, appropriations committee chair said that by dividing the expenses into the first and second six months, it will ensure that incumbent elective officials seeking re-election shall not abuse and misuse public funds allocated to each office to promote their self-serving political interests.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Iloilo City director Ferdinand Panes said that the SP can override the veto of the mayor by two-thirds vote of all its members.

Since the SP is composed of 14 members, at least 10 councilors are needed to override the veto.

Six councilors are identified with Espinosa – Eduardo Peñaredondo, R Leoni Gerochi, Lyndon Acap, Candice Tupas, Mandrie Malabor, and Liezl Joy Zulueta-Salazar.

The opposition belongs to two camps actually. Councilors Jay Treñas, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Armand Parcon, Ely Estante, Marie Irene Ong, and Leila Luntao are with Rep. Jerry Treñas.

Councilors Plaridel Nava and Joshua Alim are in the camp of Dr. Pacita Gonzalez.

“The SP needs to muster the vote of at least two-thirds of the entire membership including the vice mayor so once ang veto ma-override, mabalik na siya sa original ordinance nga ginsubmit sa local chief executive,” Panes said.

Based on Sec. 55 of the Local Government Code, unless the Sanggunian overrides the veto, the item or items in the appropriations ordinance of the previous year corresponding to those vetoed, shall be deemed reenacted.

If reenacted, the budget which will be followed is the one approved in the preceding year, according to Panes.

Despite this, Espinosa assured that the social services won’t be affected once the budget will be reenacted.

“Indi maka-affect sa social services kay wala man gid ta nag-change sang budget kay wala man huge increase. Ang budget ta last year daw amo gihapon,” Espinosa said.

The 2.318-billion budget slightly increased compared to the P2.212-billion budget this year.

Out of the P2.318-billion, 56.2 percent, or P1.303 billion, came from local taxes; 43.4 percent or P1.005 billion from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) sahre; and P10 million as shares from the economic zones.

Aside from the Executive Budget, the mayor earlier approved the 2019 Annual Budget of the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) totaling P77.172-million.