‘EVERYTHING’S IN ORDER’: Mayor pushes back on administrative cases

Mayor Jerry Treñas during the launch of their campaign Saturday evening. (Photo from Jerry Treñas FB page)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Monday used his regular press conference time to answer the allegation formally made against him by his political rivals in the May 2022 local elections.

Treñas reiterated his defense of the supplemental budget he requested this month, saying that it could be requested and approved at any time, with effectivity pending final approval by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

He explained that the budget, prior to its approval by the city council in its session, went through the city government’s finance committee composed of the Treasurer, Planning, Budget, and Accounting offices, as well as the city council’s Committees on Appropriations and Finance.

He also cited the city government’s P400-million increase in revenues last year, which was the source of the supplemental budget.

“The supplemental budget can be approved any time, as long as you have sources of funds. They fear that the funds in the supplemental budget would be used for political purposes. I want to explain that all supplemental budgets go through a process, through the finance committee composed of the Treasurer, the Planning Officer, the Accountant, [and the] Budget [Officer]. After that, it goes through the city council’s Committee on Finance, and Appropriations, to study,” the mayor explained.

“Even if it has been approved by the DBM, we cannot release the items falling under the election ban. As of now, the election ban has set in on March 25, and we could no longer [approve infrastructure], we could no longer appoint and transfer employees (sic). Our City Accountant is very strict, and funds could not be released if there are restrictions, and at the same time, there is a post-audit with the [Commission on Audit],” he added.

As to the excess coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, which was also alleged in the complaint, he said that it was the result of the necessity of getting residents and workers vaccinated against the pandemic.

He also cited that the Department of Health and the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases consented to the purchase of the city’s own vaccines from AstraZeneca.

“We bought the vaccines, but there was a delay in the delivery. When the vaccines from the national government arrived, [we thought,] ‘Do we decline this? Do we not use this and just use our own?’ Anyone in his right mind knew that we had to vaccinate fast. Otherwise, people would be dying. I had friends who died [from COVID-19],” he said.

“We all tried to look at the vaccines at the time we need them. I am only so sad that it’s their mentality. That means that they wouldn’t buy that, and they would only let the Ilonggos die. But I cannot do that. If I had resources, I would look for funds to buy the vaccines,” he added.

The mayor said that he would wait for the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas’ request for his answer to the administrative complaint filed against him, to which he also reiterated that he would be ready to respond to them legally.

“The Ombudsman will still study the complaint until seeking my answer. If there is basis for the complaint, they will request for my answer, and I will answer that. But for me, [the complaint] is completely without legal basis. I hope the Ombudsman will be fair when it comes to this complaint,” he said.

Treñas ultimately remarked that his experience as mayor from 2001 to 2010, and from 2019 to present, has taught him how to handle his job in the right way an in accordance with the law.

“I’ve been mayor for 12 years already. I don’t need to be taught what I can and can’t do. At the same time, I am a lawyer of good standing. I am ready to make sure that everything that Iloilo City will do will be legal and within the bounds of the law, and we will make sure that no one would be affected,” he stated.

The complaint against the mayor was filed last March 25 by the group of People’s Reform Party mayoral candidate Salvador Capulot.

Aside from the supplemental budget and the purchase of vaccines, the two opposition candidates also fielded corruption allegations on a P1.7-billion loan contract and procurement of vehicles tagged to the offices of city councilors.