‘Lawin’ rehab delayed as Cagayan execs bicker
TUGUEGARAO CITY—Bickering among provincial officials here has put on hold rehabilitation efforts meant to address the P8-billion damage wrought by Supertyphoon “Lawin” (international name: Haima) in October last year.
But halfway into 2017, the Cagayan provincial board has yet to approve the province’s budget for the year, affecting all its programs.
The board, led by Vice Gov. Melvin Vargas, and majority of its members belong to the rival political group of Gov. Manuel Mamba.
Last week, Cagayan mayors appealed to the board to set aside political differences and approve the budget.
“The Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s inaction on the budget results in the unnecessary delay in the implementation of essential programs, projects and activities. This is a disservice to the people of Cagayan,” said a resolution passed by the Cagayan mayors’ league.
The league is led by Tuao Mayor Francisco Mamba Jr., the governor’s brother.
The provincial government has been operating under a re-enacted budget based on the 2016 allocation.
Not passing the 2017 budget will hamper assistance to 55,000 families who have either lost or suffered damaged homes due to the typhoon, according to officials.
“The rehabilitation projects prepared by the [Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Agriculture] cannot be implemented because these require counterpart funding from the province, which should be shouldered by the proposed budget,” said Elisa Carodan, provincial planning and development officer.
The impasse led Mamba to file last month a case asking the Regional Trial Court to compel the board members to prioritize deliberations on the budget, as mandated by the Local Government Code.
Board Member Maila Rosario Ting-Que, who represents the provincial federation of local council members, blamed the executive department for the delay.
“They cannot justify to the board their proposed budget, and prove that this complies with the long-term, medium-term and short-term plans of the province,” she said.
Provincial officials admitted that the proposed budget was altered to address events like Lawin, Que said.
“We understand that, but they should still follow the process by making this go through the provincial development council,” she added.
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