Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Supplemental budget of P276M gets Provincial Board nod

..AFTER having a recess thrice and calling for a “division of the house” twice, the Cebu Provincial Board (PB) members passed in mass motion Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s supplemental budget yesterday, but not after slasing Capitol’s printing budget by P4 million. The PB Board, with the new majority composing the opposition bloc, slashed the budget for Capitol’s official publication Sugbo News from P5 million to P1 million. This reduced the entire budget from P271.965 million to P267.965 million. The budget also carries the bonuses of 1,576 Capitol employees. These are the P23.64-million collective negotiation agreement and the P16.22-million performance incentive. The 2 p.m. session was delayed for 33 minutes, as two of the PB’s ex-officio members — Councilors League president Carmen Remedios “Ivy” Durano-Meca and Provincial SK president Aladdin Caminero — were still in the governor’s office. Excuse Yesterday’s proceedings did not go smoothly, as Meca and Caminero, after arriving from the governor’s office, repeatedly excused themselves from the session. At 3:20, presiding officer Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale called for a recess. She then approached the legislators and all the others joined, except PB Members Wilfredo Caminero, Arleigh Sitoy, and Teddy Ouano. Magpale resumed the session at 3:33. Sitoy then placed a “condition” on the budget proposal, giving the vice governor independence from the governor. “The vice governor will sign the checks and distribute it,” Sitoy said, referring to the checks covering the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) of PB members. But PB Members Julian Daan and Sergio Restauro objected. The latter called for a division of the house. PB Member Ribomapil Holganza Jr. called for a recess and it was approved. Magpale again conferred with the legislators. After the recess, Sitoy withdrew his “condition” and the division of the house was averted. Reduction The discussion then focused on the P4-million reduction of the allocation for printing and binding expenses of Sugbo News, Capitol’s official publication. PB Member Sitoy wanted to know the reason for the allocation, since P24 million was earlier passed for the publication. Magpale reminded legislators that they called Public Information Office head Roger Serna twice to the session, but he failed to attend. Daan objected to the slash, and a five-minute recess was declared at 4 p.m. Magpale was again in a huddle with PB members. When the session resumed, PB Member Alex Binghay was given the floor, and he agreed with the slashing of the allocation. Sitoy then called for a division of the house to decide on the slashing of the Sugbo News budget. Eleven PB members voted for the reduction, while Daan voted against. Restauro and Ouano abstained. PB Member Peter John Calderon then called for the approval of the supplemental budget, which was passed in mass motion. ..