Body explains P30M Tabuk supplemental budget issues

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TABUK CITY  – The Local Finance Committee (LFC) in an April 30 letter responded to the issues raised by Vice Mayor Bernard Glenn Dao-as concerning the P30 million supplemental budget for Tabuk City’s COVID-19 response even as it pointed out that these issues are no longer “significant” since the supplemental budget has already been enacted.

The LFC said they were surprised with the questioning of the budget since it had been approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod under the vice mayor’s watch.

“This gesture came as a surprise on the part of the LFC, considering that to our knowledge, these issues would have been tackled and deliberated upon during your session. While in session, parliamentary procedures also allow the Presiding Officer to participate in the discussion by simply relinquishing his post as Presiding Officer. This should have been the proper time for him to raise such issues and considering that the ordinance was approved by this august body, the presumption of regularity lies,” states the LFC letter addressed to Committee on Finance Chair Castor ‘Baby’Cayaba.

City Administrator Arnold Tenedero heads the City’s Local Finance Committee.

In their six-page letter explanation, the LFC answered questions of irregularities in the passage of the P30 million budget, saying the funds were used to address the immediate needs of the city government to respond to the COVID-19 threat at the time.

“The ordinance proved beneficial to our constituents especially those belonging to the poorest of the poor, displaced workers, and the marginalized sector because we are able to provide food packs, vitamins and medicines, medical supplies and hazard pay for our front liners and compensate the skeleton force who chose to volunteer and serve in their respective capacities in our fight against COVID-19,” the LFC wrote.

The LFC also said the decision not to channel the entirety of Tabuk’s calamity fund to COVID-19 response was due to foresight that COVID-19 would not be the only emergency that Tabuk would face in the coming months, citing the typhoon season and the threat of other seasonal diseases.

The LFC also clarified that the budget of the offices of the city government for the entire year was not sacrificed for the COVID-19 response – as interpreted by the Vice Mayor. Rather, only the budget from the second quarter were repurposed, specifically the budget for activities that can no longer be held because of the pandemic such as trainings and travel of employees, CARAA, and the Matagoan Festival, among others.

The LFC’s letter was made public by Mayor Darwin Estrañero on social media. He encouraged everyone to read the letter “so our kailyans may know how their taxes were able to help the government battle the virus and keep Tabuk City COVID-free.”

The local chief executive said his administration is “committed to transparency in fulfilling our service to the City.”

By Edward Joseph Gacuya