Bottomline, did Bambi and allies comply with the law on 2020 budget?

OPINION
By SUSAN PALMES-DENNIS
July 8, 2020

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—After starting off on a high note with my ‘Barangay S’ program at my Facebook account and broadcast over at Way Kurat 105.5 FM Balingasag on Monday and Wednesday to Friday, I’ll also launch another another FB Live program dubbed ‘Susan Live’ starting this Tuesday (July 7, 6 am to 7 am Philippine time) and every Tuesday thereafter at Mindanao Daily News Radyo Natin 106.3 FM.
So that’s two FB Live programs broadcast every week from my home to yours wherever you are in the country and even around the world whenever there is a WiFi connection. When I started this gig as I put it—thanks to some outside assistance—I reflected on how, as I migrated to the US to be with hubby Ronnie Dennis a decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for me to find my way back to my former media profession.
I don’t have the money to put up my own broadcast station be it TV or radio. But thanks to the Internet and substantial advances in online connectivity, nearly anyone with a mobile device and WiFi connection can broadcast themselves through social media to the rest of the world. Thus was hatched my idea of reviving ‘Barangay S’ which used to broadcast at the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN).
Thus it had been quite a while since I regularly wrote here at Mindanao Daily News and for that my apologies to my dear readers and followers. I won’t promise anything other than to try to post more in the days ahead, my health, broadcast schedule and quality time with family permitting. And like the issues and topics I discuss in my two FB Live programs, I will try to be diverse in my discussion with you. Now, without further ado, let’s move on.
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I was sort of busy preparing for a subdued, yet still joyful commemoration of the Fourth of July holiday or American Independence Day—no thanks to COVID-19—when the news hit me like fireworks about the court ruling granting the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the 2020 budget of Misamis Oriental over the weekend and how Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano declared in no uncertain terms that the province won’t have the money to pay for the salaries of their employees, let alone feed the inmates and so forth ad nauseum.
Despite a hectic schedule I still managed to get pieces of information here and there from sources in the city and somehow managed to get a snapshot of this budget imbroglio that occurred at probably the worst time in the province when it is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this posting, the governor reminded the local governments in the province not to expect financial assistance from the Capitol other than so-called technical expertise which, based on Provincial Health Officer Dr. Jerie Calingasan’s latest advisory to avoid and bar all suspected COVID-19 cases out of their localities, doesn’t amount to much at all.
Let’s try to discuss this issue without touching on the merits of the case to avoid the all-too-familiar (and dreaded for some media practitioners) subjudice rule for ongoing cases at court of which this TRO petitioned for by Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar ‘Jigjag’ Pelaez and two other Provincial Board (PB) members qualifies as one.  What catches public attention, particularly those of the Misamisnons, is Bambi’s frantic claim that they won’t be able to pay for the salaries of Capitol employees and other expenses especially for the province’s COVID-19 response.
Again, the finer details of the case are being buried under a ‘gloom and doom’ scenario and dare I say it, charade, being orchestrated by the incumbent administration at the Capitol not only to draw public sympathy but also to demonize and provoke public anger at Pelaez and his allies by portraying themselves and by extension, the people as victims of the so-called ‘tyranny of the opposition minority.’  As to questions on the rejection and refusal of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to approve, much less review, their 2020 budget proposal, Bambi and his allies through their Provincial Legal Officer failed to adequately answer other than resorting to pitiful ‘woe unto all of us’ pleas and self-righteous indignation at the damage they accuse the Pelaez camp of inflicting on the people of Misamis Oriental.
When asked about his reaction to Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno’s assertion that the budget fiasco had the fingerprints of ex-PB member and ex-Cagayan de Oro City Councilor President Elipe, Bambi deflected the question during last Saturday’s press conference by tersely commenting that he would answer the mayor’s question if the mayor can adequately answer about the rising COVID-19 cases in the city (who are mostly locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers who contracted the virus outside of the city).
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I’ll try to review the press briefings of Pelaez and Bambi with their respective allies as well as Mayor Moreno’s statements on the 2020 budget issue which will also impact on Cagayan de Oro City and Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) since due to Emano’s declaration, COVID-19 related funding ground to a halt to the local governments in the province and it won’t be a remote possibility for COVID-19 cases from the province to soon find their way into the city’s isolation units and to NMMC’s intensive care wards.
But suffice it to say that, amid all the handwringing and finger-pointing done by Bambi and his allies at the Capitol at the Pelaez camp, what they failed to adequately answer is the DBM rejection and Moreno’s assertion that there were last minute insertions at the 2020 budget that allegedly transferred P68 million of funding intended for the vice governor’s office to the governor’s office specifically to its liaison office. And who was the main architect for that alleged last minute insertions?
A hint as provided by Mayor Moreno, who presented a more convincing argument on the issue, concerning the identity of said architect can be easily read above. Oh and wasn’t there an arrest warrant supposedly issued on said architect and his sibling as stated by the PNP regional office (PNP-10) last year on graft and falsification charges?  But then again, Bambi and his allies would rather deflect public attention on that crucial item and instead goad the Misamisnons into targeting their anger at the Pelaez camp and avoid drawing unfavorable, critical attention on their role in their budget debacle.


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