CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Let’s try to look objectively at the possible reasons why the majority Padayon Pilipino bloc in the Provincial Board (PB) rejected a proposed resolution by Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar ‘Jigjag’ Pelaez to adopt the reenacted 2019 budget in order not only to pay for its employees but also to fund the province’s COVID-19 response programs.
I discussed this during Wednesday’s (July edition of ‘Barangay S’ broadcast at my Facebook page and at 105.5 Bay Radio Way Kurat Balingasag in both its radio station and at its Facebook page at 7-8 am. Owing to time constraints, I decided to elaborate on my points here in my column at Mindanao Daily News.
First of all the resolution stemmed from the court’s ruling to enforce a temporary restraining order on the Capitol’s 2020 budget following its rejection by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) owing to irregularities such as the absence of signatures by vice governor Pelaez and the PB secretary.
The majority PB bloc had yet to answer categorically and specifically to their Misamisnon constituents on whether the 2020 budget proposal passed to the DBM for review and clearance contained last minute insertions that Pelaez alleged had divested his office of P68 million funding and re-allocated it in favor to a liaison office assigned under the governor’s office.
The last minute insertions were supposedly the handiwork of ex-PB member and ex-Cagayan de Oro City councilor President Elipe prior to his ‘vanishing act’ after the police were about to enforce arrest warrants issued on him and his sister by the Sandiganbayan on graft and falsification charges.
Elipe incidentally is the brother-in-law of Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny ‘Bambi’ Emano who’s serving his last term with the COVID-19 pandemic riding on his back and he was particularly testy when his attention was called by local media on the comments made by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno on Elipe’s alleged role in the last minute insertions stunt on the vice governor’s budget.
But let’s focus on the 2020 and 2019 budget. The majority PB bloc rejected the Pelaez resolution as it may be called because they want the slightly bigger 2020 budget AND with it, the Supplemental Budget containing the one-month worth share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) allocated by the national government as part of the ‘Bayanihan Heal As One’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s an ‘all or nothing’ deal for the majority PB bloc as far as the budget is concerned and they would likely spin this Pelaez resolution as an ‘admission of guilt’ on the part of the vice governor and his allies for pushing their TRO petition on the 2020 budget due to what they would claim as ‘politically motivated’ retaliation against Bambi.
In pushing this malicious, false narrative, the Padayon Pilipino PB bloc conveniently ignored the DBM rejection of their 2020 budget proposal supposedly containing the last minute insertions and the absence of the signatures of the vice governor and the PB secretary.
Instead Bambi pushed for the total shutdown of the Capitol’s operations due to alleged fund lack and is banking on fueling and directing public discontent against Pelaez and his minority allies to pressure them into withdrawing the TRO petition while clearing himself and his allies of their malicious, underground tactic to torpedo and render inutile the vice governor’s office.
Bambi and his majority bloc are also counting on the lapse of the 20-day TRO to push for approval of the 2020 budget whether it be in court or in the PB session hall. But then since they have the numbers, how did Pelaez and his minority allies secure a TRO in the first place?
We’ll leave that for court resolution. Incidentally, the PB majority bloc also rejected the resolution since it would also mean the retention of the vice governor office’s budget which they are targeting to remove in their 2020 budget in favor of the governor’s liaison office.
In justifying their move to strip the vice governor of his budget during their press conference last Saturday—it was staged hours after Pelaez held his own press conference to answer Bambi’s accusations leveled at him—one of the PB members, Wayne Militante, replied that removing the budget didn’t entail depriving the vice governor of his salary and benefits as an elected official.
Wow, just listening to Militante’s condescending, arrogant tone on the vice governor’s salary and benefits mirrored in essence Bambi’s contempt and disregard of ‘fiscal autonomy’ that’s guaranteed among the executive (which he is as local chief executive of the province), legislative (which Pelaez represents as vice governor despite Bambi’s lapdogs in the PB) and judicial departments (which include the court that granted the TRO petition). Anyway, will write more on this issue before this week ends.