By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
THE Sangguniang Panlungsod on Jan 8, 2019 failed to override the veto of Mayor Jose Espinosa III on the P2.318-billion annual budget for 2019.
Instead of the override, which is prescribed by Philippine laws and legislative tradition in superseding the veto, the majority bloc at the council became creative by “junking” or striking out the line vetos of the mayor.
Also, the majority bloc passed a resolution, which is more of a request than a law, directing the Local Finance Committee to observe and implement the 2019 Executive Budget initially approved by the SP.
Councilor Plaridel Nava, chairman on committee on appropriations, proposed that the line vetoes of Espinosa on the 2019 budget be stricken out from the records of the SP as if it is an ordinary piece of paper.
Nava emphasized that the veto of the mayor was “invalid”, “defective” and “not binding to the SP,” although he did not cite any legal basis for his characterization.
“The mayor has not cited any particular or specific provision of law that would support his stand that we are bereft of the authority and power to make such kind of table of expenditures. The veto is null and void because it is not sanctioned, it is not based on the provision of law. For me this is just a mere scrap of paper,” Nava said.
Councilors Jay Treñas, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Armand Parcon, Ely Estante, Marie Irene Ong, and Leila Luntao, Plaridel Nava and Joshua Alim voted to scrap the mayor’s veto and the resolution addressed to finance committee.
Six councilors identified with Espinosa – Eduardo Peñaredondo, R Leoni Gerochi, Lyndon Acap, Candice Tupas, Mandrie Malabor, and Liezl Joy Zulueta-Salazar – objected.
NO LEGAL EFFECT
In retaliation, City Administrator Hernando Galvez said the resolution to the finance committee is nothing but a piece of paper expressing the sentiments of the council and has no obligatory/legal effect.
“Legally speaking, ang resolution wala sang bili and its nothing but an expression of sentiment, opinion na wala sang obligatory effect. Instead of moving to override, they just passed a resolution,” he emphasized.
Galvez cited the Local Government Code where it stated that unless the Sanggunian overrides the veto, the item or items in the appropriations ordinance of the previous year corresponding to those vetoed, shall be deemed re-enacted.
While the executive department respects the resolution, Galvez said that the council should have done the proper action of trying to override the ordinance instead of passing the resolution.
“We respect the resolution but it has no binding effect, indi na obligatory and it’s not a law,” he said.
Peñaredondo also aired the same sentiments and emphasized that the council cannot enforce their stand on the resolution because it has no basis in the law.
“Enforcing their stand won’t be possible in any circumstances. Whether it’s passed or not wala to epekto ang resolution and has no basis sa law,” he said.
Espinosa signed the 2019 annual budget on Dec 27, 2019 but with partial vetoes, particularly the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) allocation of the City Mayor’s Office.
In his veto message, the mayor explained that the new mechanism introduced by the SP where the annual budget will be split into two tranches is ultra vires or beyond the legal authority and is not allowed by law.
Espinosa also emphasized that some of the items were deemed prejudicial to public welfare.
“The provisions dividing the disbursement into two would not only affect but greatly prejudice the operation and functioning of different offices involved in the delivery of basic services needed by the people,” he explained.
Espinosa stressed that splitting the appropriations “would not only cripple but will also slow down the performance and efficiency of every offices concerned as they will be limited in cases of emergency, contingency, lack of supplies, lack of personnel, and inadequate equipment.”
Peñaredondo said that items vetoed by the mayor will be deemed reenacted and will take effect by operation of law.
“Wala ma override sang majority members of the city council meaning there was no action taken by majority of the City Council. The law will take its course naturally,” he said.
Since the opposition bloc failed to override the mayor’s veto, the mayor’s office will most probably use the reenacted 2018 MOOE budget amounting to more than P672.9 million, which is bigger than the P121.6-million allocation for 2019.