Team ‘AlGoNa’ hits back at absent ‘Uswag’ councilors

ONLY eight lloilo City Councilors were present in the regular session on April 30, 2019 as seven members of Team Uswag are all on leave since last week. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO City Councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava of Team AlGoNa hit back at ‘Uswag’ Councilors following their continued absence from the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s regular session.

Team ‘Uswag’ members Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Councilors Love Baronda, Ely Estante, Armand Parcon, Irene Ong, and Jay Treñas have been absent for the past three sessions of the SP.

Councilor Leila Luntao is still an official travel.

The Uswag councilors filed special leaves for April 26 and April 30 which also fall on the regular sessions of the SP.

The same set of councilors also scuttled the City Council session on April 23, which led to a lack of quorum and stalled the calamity declaration.

During a special session on Friday, the Sangguniang Panlungsod declared a state of calamity in Iloilo City due to the prolonged dry spell caused by El Niño despite the absence of ‘Uswag’ councilors.

Eight councilors from Team ‘Arangka’ of Mayor Jose Espinosa III and “cross liners” from Team ‘AlGoNa’ present in the session approved the resolution placing Iloilo City under a State of Calamity as requested by Espinosa through the recommendation of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

In his speech on Tuesday, Alim expressed dismay at fellow councilors who scuttled the past three sessions.

“I feel so uncomfortable and irritated every time I hear this absentee councilors talk about the calamity issue over the radio,” he lamented.

Alim even challenged the ‘Uswag’ councilors to a debate on the calamity issue.

“I challenge them to come here, anyone of them, all of them, let’s have a debate on this issue,” he said.

The councilor emphasized that the regular session should be the proper forum where all significant matters should be discussed.

“This is the proper forum. Everything being discussed here is official. I’ve been telling them come to the session, waay di sila nag-leave, nagkampanya. That’s their own choice. Sobra ka kawakal sa social media and everything, why don’t you sit here so that we can discuss this official. I challenge them, all of them for a debate here,” Alim said.

Councilor Nava also expressed frustration at ‘Uswag’ councilors.

“They don’t show a proper courtesy to this Sanggunian and their fellow councilors. They are telling us nga mga tuta ni mayor which is uncalled for,” he stressed.

For instance, Nava slammed Councilor Baronda and the head of their Team ‘Uswag’, lone district Rep. Jerry Treñas, for confusing the public with false figures, particularly on the calamity fund.

“For instance, Councilor Baronda siling niya after approval sang resolution nag-release dayon si mayor P57 million, ambot diin siya nagkuha figures because ang resolution wala pa gani matapos ang draft,” he emphasized.

The councilor also hit back at Treñas for using inaccurate figures.

“He keeps on telling the people that the mayor intends to spend P127 million perhaps he was given an erroneous figure. You know figures can’t lie but liars can always figure,” Nava stressed.

According to Nava, the amount available at the disposal of the mayor is only P34 million because of the reenacted budget

“First quarter pa lang ang pwede gastuson sa calamity fund. Out of the P34 million, P8 million lang ang pwede gastuson, amo na ang presentation sang City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRMMC). Ngaa kinahanglan niyo patalangan niyo ang tawo?” he questioned.

Nava recalled the time where the SP slashed the budget for the construction of Iloilo City Sports Arena in Brgy. San Pedro, Molo, Iloilo City which was proposed by Espinosa.

“Sang nangayo authority si Espinosa for the sports arena, wala man kamo nagboycott kag nagkadto sa radio kag ipakamalaut kami. Ngaa subong ya?” he lamented.

Nava, the deputy floor leader and chair of the Committee on Appropriations, also posed a challenged to the ‘Uswag’ Councilors.

“They were the ones who put me here in this position. I am challenging them now, kun gusto nila kuhaon ang akon position kag ibalik kay Councilor Peñaredondo, okay lang na sa akon, indi lang ko nila pagtumbuyon kay I did not ask for this. They were the ones who offered this to me, so at any time wala ko ni ginpangasawa angpagkafloor leader, kuhaon nila,” he said.

If the ‘Uswag’ councilors have the numbers, Nava said he is willing to yield.

To recall, Peñaredondo was ousted as floor leader as well as chair of the committees on Rules, Appropriations, and Zoning, including Gerochi who was the assistant floor leader and used to chair the transportation committee.

The revamp on the council was initiated by the ‘Uswag’ councilors together with ‘AlGoNa’ councilors.

Recently, Team “Uswag” questioned the city government’s utilization of the calamity fund following the declaration of the state of calamity in Iloilo City.

According to them, the money for the calamity fund will be used by the current administration as a political machinery in the upcoming election.

Citing the difference between the P19.1 million and the P144,000 a day based on their computation, Team “Uswag” questioned the spending powers of the city government.

“Let’s assume we will deliver water to each barangay one truckload of water for 180 barangays at P800 per truck, that would only equal to P144,000 per day to cover all barangays. P19.1 million a day versus P144,000 a day nga actual computation if basehan lang naton ang presyo ka tubig kada truck. Kadako gid sang difference,” the group stressed.

But, Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management head Donna Magno said in her presentation that the city government can only utilize the 30 percent quick response (QRF) of its P115 million local disaster risk reduction and management (LDRRM) funds equivalent to around PHP34.7 million upon the declaration of the state of calamity.

Magno laid down their computation, with the cost of water at P23 per cubic meter and the cost of gasoline for the water tanker and concluded that the city will only spend around P8.390 million for water rationing on the barangays for 90 days.

“The city will be spending P2.797 million for 30 days of water rationing, P5.593 million for 60 days; and P8.390 million for 90 days, based on our actual computation,” Magno said.