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Makati vice mayor seeks reasons for budget cuts

By Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:12:00 07/10/2010

Filed Under: local officials, State Budget & Taxes

MAKATI VICE MAYOR ROMULO Peña has questioned the realignment of the city budget that cut funds allocated to his office by 96 percent, and to the city council by 62 percent, saying the move would cripple work in these offices.

In the recent realignment, the budget of the city mayor in 2010 increased from P81 million to P200 million, while that of the vice mayor was slashed from P73 million to P3 million. City council funds, on the other hand, were slashed from P80 million to P30 million.

Some P119 million of the budget were transferred to the Office of the Mayor, according to a document dated June 23, 2010, and signed by then Makati Mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay.

In a letter on Tuesday, Peña asked Lorenza Amores, city budget officer, to clarify the realignment, citing provisions in the Local Government Code that ?funds shall be available exclusively for the specific purpose for which they have been appropriated. No ordinance shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations from one item to another.?

The same code says the mayor or the presiding officer of the city council ?may be authorized by ordinance to augment any in the approved annual budget for their respective offices from savings in other items within the same expense class of their respective appropriation.?

?We want them to clarify why our budget was cut. As duly elected public officials, we also have rights and we need funds to perform our respective jobs,? Peña told Inquirer.

No reduction

Budgets for other offices in the Makati city government were not reduced, it was learned.
Peña?s senior aide, Henry Vera, said the transfer of the funds was meant to cripple the offices who had opposed the new mayor, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., and his father, Vice President Binay, in the last elections.

The vice mayor, however, said he hopes the matter is settled since he had just initiated reconciliation talks with the younger Binay.

Peña was on the same ticket as former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, who ran for mayor in the May 10 elections, hoping to beat the son of the longest-serving mayor of Makati.

Amores said the realignment was based on a city ordinance in December 2009 authorizing the mayor to transfer funds from one office to another.

?It was a verbal order to me by the then mayor. Transferring funds has been a practice really. Sometimes, the mayor?s priorities change,? Amores said.

Normal

Joey Salgado, head of Makati?s public information office, said the realignment is ?part of the normal course? in the city government and the city council.

?We?re rationalizing the need for casual workers. As far as operations are concerned, they have their own legislative staff. Why would there be a need for casuals?? he said.

Asked why the mayor opted to cut the budget of the two offices staffed by persons who had not joined them in the last elections, Amores said: ?It?s hard to say that they are being singled out. The Binays also have allies in the city council.?

Majority of the councilors who won in the last elections are allies of the vice mayor.



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