NegOcc SP okays Moises Padilla budget, including P1 for vice mayor’s office

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental approved the 2024 budget for Moises Padilla town, effectively ratifying the P1 allocation of the Sangguniang Bayan previously questioned by the town’s vice mayor.

The provincial board issued a joint resolution declaring that the Appropriation Ordinance No. 2023-004 of Moises Padilla for fiscal year 2024 is “valid, effective, and in compliance with all legal requirements.”

The resolution, which was provided to the local media, stated that on Dec. 22, 2023, Vice Mayor Ian Villaflor, through the chairman of the Committee on Finance, requested a thorough review of the 2024 Annual General Fund Budget of the town, particularly focusing on the allocations for the Sangguniang Bayan Office.

The resolution noted concerns about alleged abuse of authority due to budget adjustments made during the final reading and voting, specifically reductions in salaries, maintenance, other operating expenses, and fuel allocations.

Despite these concerns, the ordinance received unanimous approval from all Sangguniang Bayan members and was certified by both the Sangguniang Bayan secretary and the municipal mayor.

“Challenges to the ordinance’s validity, notably regarding compliance with the ‘Three Reading Principle,’ were raised by the vice mayor,” the resolution also stated.

According to the resolution, a meticulous examination and deliberation occurred during a public hearing on Jan. 30, 2024, under the guidance of the Committee on Laws and Committee on Budget and Finance.

After a comprehensive review, both committees determined that the ordinance adheres to all legal requirements stipulated in the Local Government Code, pertinent laws, administrative orders, and the Budget Operations Manual.

Earlier, Villaflor questioned the Sangguniang Bayan’s decision to slash its own P2.1 million budget for 2024 to P1 for certain items, which he claimed was already approved on second reading by its members.

Villaflor has stated that based on their internal rules, there should be no amendments to the budget on the third and final reading, except for nominal voting for its approval. He also dismissed the action as “illegal.”

He disclosed that the budget slashing most affected the Sangguniang Bayan, where the budget for job order and casual employees, fuel, and lubricants was reduced to P1 each.

Councilor Dowen Ogatis said the budget was slashed to P1 for the questioned items due to alleged irregularities in the disbursement of funds. He also claimed there was a lack of transparency in the fund disbursements.

Ogatis reiterated that the slashed budget was approved by all members of the municipal council and was not politically motivated or a personal attack on the vice mayor.

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