That budget impasse and the NMMC controversy

OPINION
By SUSAN PALMES-DENNIS
July 20, 2020

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Charlotte, North Carolina—Been quite preoccupied with my Facebook Live broadcasts that I haven’t spared sometime writing but then the schedule leaves me just enough time to relax with hubby Ronnie and catching up with friends old and new in this coronavirus season. That said I also keep updated on what’s happening in my land of birth particularly in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental, but first I tie up some loose ends.
Last time I wrote the other week ago on the temporary restraining order issued on the 2020 budget of the provincial government. It didn’t exactly take long for the court to lift the TRO as it cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the chief overriding reason for allowing the provincial government access to their supposed 2020 budget that contained last minute additions such as stripping the vice-governor’s office of its entire budget and re-allocating it to a liaison office under the governor’s office.
But it remains to be seen if the case lodged by the vice governor against the Padayon Pilipino bloc had been resolved and if the Capitol administration can secure a positive review from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which rejected the last minute 2020 budget for failing to secure the vice-governor’s signature along with the Provincial Board (PB) secretary.
If these were less critical times, the case would have been elevated to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which handled a similar budget row back in 2011 involving then last term Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and her political rival, the late vice governor Gregorio Sanchez who filed administrative charges against her for, among other things, cutting off the vice-governor’s budget. But these are not critical times and so we leave it to the courts to resolve this impasse.
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For now though let’s talk a little on the surprise resignation (‘early retirement’ was the term of choice) of Dr. Jose Chan, medical director of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) for health reasons over the weekend. The news came as a shock to Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno as he noted that he didn’t expect Dr. Chan’s resignation at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.
What would be of particular interest to the mayor’s critics is the designation of Dr. Ramon Moreno as acting NMMC chief which would spark not a few unfounded, even malicious speculations that Dr. Chan was forced out of his post to make way for Dr. Moreno. In fact I’ve read some Facebook posts from some netizens clearly critical of Mayor Moreno that insinuated that Dr. Moreno’s appointment would be one way of ‘fudging the numbers’ so to speak on the COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City.
For those who’ve been monitoring the daily press briefings at Cagayan de Oro City Hall, the NMMC designated Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha as its liaison officer to issue reports on the COVID-19 cases recorded in Cagayan de Oro City and the rest of Northern Mindanao, including Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon provinces. At first Dr. Rocha refuted reports of Dr. Chan’s resignation only to confirm about it in interviews with local media last Saturday.
And of course, those who monitored the press briefings know by now Mayor Moreno’s outburst over one doctor who claimed that City Hall had been under-reporting on the number of COVID-19 cases in the city and he even claimed seeing body bags lined up at one of the hospitals he worked in as evidence for his allegations. Needless to say, his unsubstantiated Facebook posts were eagerly circulated by the mayor’s critics and bashers last April and May.
Lately this doctor switched tactics and claimed that he is making a compilation of the COVID-19 cases being reported in the press briefings and comparing them with reports from the Department of Health (DOH-10) and Faceook posts of media outlets to determine if what City Hall is reporting is true and factual or—and this is what he’s now saying—city officials are allegedly not including deaths caused by COVID-19 like illnesses/ailments.
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What makes this doctor’s intentions appear so insidious and highly suspect is that he’s making these allegations under a Facebook alias and agreed to a radio interview with radio blocktimers who are identified as the mayor’s chief bashers including those identified with the ‘de-color’ politicos and pro-lockdown proponents as well as a former City Hall official whom Mayor Moreno said was sacked because of some irregularities.
That said, Dr. Chan’s resignation would again surely be exploited by the mayor’s critics and bashers for whatever negative propaganda they can squeeze out of it to make the mayor look bad—like scheming, Machiavellian bad which is a bare-faced malicious lie that can only be perpetrated by those with insidious designs of re-taking City Hall or landing some juicy city government posts in the next elections.
Yes, I’m talking about the opposition groups who have been relentless in their attacks on Mayor Moreno even way back in 2013 when he first assumed the post and now when he’s leading City Hall and Cagayan de Oro City’s stakeholders in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis. Then again, it’s eventually up to Dr. Chan to decide whether or not to explain his reasons for retiring. But it’s up to him to decide on that.
Regardless of the fallout, what’s important is for the NMMC to soldier on along with City Hall in keeping COVID-19 at bay until it is eventually overcome by the people of Cagayan de Oro City and northern Mindanao. Election politics which these greedy, amoral trapo politicos feed and survive on along with their paid trolls can and should be made to wait preferably until 2022.
In the event these trapo politicians, bashers and trolls question City Hall’s reports of COVID-19 cases in the city by maliciously imputing a conspiracy between the city government and NMMC over at Facebook and other social media, it would be best to simply ignore them or better yet, challenge them to substantiate their claims to the DOH-10 whose leadership I believe relies first and foremost on scientific evidence-based data.


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