P18-B city budget for 2019 divides Makati council
Members of the Makati City Council seated on opposite sides of the political fence have blamed each other for the nonrelease of salary increases for over 10,000 city government employees starting this month.
In a statement, Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo, presiding officer of the 17-member city council, said the “inordinate delay” in the approval of the 2019 Makati budget was preventing the implementation of the fourth tranche of pay hikes under the salary standardization law.
Lagdameo, who is running for reelection with incumbent Mayor Abby Binay, accused the 12 councilors aligned with former Mayor Junjun Binay of “holding the city budget hostage.”
The two Binays are contesting the Makati mayoral seat in the May elections.
According to Lagdameo, the opposition councilors deferred action on the budget during two consecutive sessions held on Jan. 9 and 16.
Held in abeyance
“The appropriation ordinance has been calendared since Oct. 24, 2018, and marathon budget deliberations by committee members were conducted from Nov. 12 to Dec. 19, 2018, with all the departments and offices of the city government. Yet, the opposition continues to hold the budget approval in abeyance,” she claimed.
She identified the 12 councilors “who have consistently voted to defer the budget approval” as majority floor leader Nemesio “King” Yabut Jr., Councilors Divina Jacome, Shirley Aspillaga, Grazielle Iony de Lara-Bes, Ferdinand Eusebio, Leonardo Magpantay, Romeo Medina, Arlene Ortega, Nelson Pasia, Mary Ruth Tolentino, Marie Alethea Casal-Uy and Evelyn Delfina Villamor.
On the other hand, she said that those who pushed for its immediate approval were minority floor leader Maria Concepcion “Ichi” Yabut, Virgilio Hilario Jr., Luis Javier Jr., Armand Padilla and Rodolfo San Pedro Jr. (Padilla and San Pedro are ex-officio members of the council as the current presidents of Liga ng mga Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan, respectively.)
In the past two years, there were no delays in the approval of the city budget. The 2017 budget was approved on Dec. 22, 2016, while the 2018 budget was passed on Nov. 17, 2017.
For this year, the city administration had proposed an P18.17 billion budget, 15.8 percent higher than last year’s.
No effect on pay adjustments
Asked for comment, Councilor King Yabut said that the deliberations on the budget should not affect the adjustment of salaries for city hall employees.
“For the meantime, the budget is deemed temporarily reenacted, providing for the continuation of wages and essential services,” he told the Inquirer.
King, who is running for Congress in May, pointed to the minority councilors as the ones who were delaying the implementation of the pay hike by pushing for the immediate approval of the budget, even though it had yet to be examined by the city council.
These councilors, he said, wanted to “force the approval of the city’s executive budget before the council can perform its oversight function.”
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