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DBM to review disagreement on city’s annual budget provision

The city council on Monday discussed in aid of legislation with representatives from the Department of Budget and Management-Cordillera the partial veto of the city mayor on Sections 5 and 6 of Ordinance 149, s. 2018 or the Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 of the City Government of Baguio amounting P2,179,500,000, in its effort to hear the opinion of the resource persons.

Section 5 of the appropriation ordinance requires that “feasibility study and plans” shall be submitted first to the city council for review and approval before the implementation of the P223,000,000 allotted for the construction of a multipurpose building parking at Camp Henry T. Allen, Kayang Street; and the P20,000,000 allocated for the refurbishment of City Hall.

Similarly, Section 6 requires review and approval of “details of the service/s” of said projects by the city council prior to the engagement of consultancy service/s by any department.

The councilors maintained that the conditions are pursuant to its legislative power to authorize through an appropriation ordinance the expenditures proposed by the executive branch.

City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, in his veto letter last Feb. 7, deferred actions on Sections 5 and 6, believing that these are not in accordance with the existing budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.

The mayor’s message states that the authorization of the Sanggunian is not required for appropriations with a specific purpose as decided in the Quisumbing vs. Garcia case in G.R. No. 175527 on Dec. 8, 2008.

The argument was based on the quoted merit of the case that “should the appropriation ordinance, for instance, already contain in sufficient detail the project and cost of a capital outlay such that all that the local chief executive needs to do after undergoing the requisite public bidding is to execute the contract, no further authorization is required, the appropriation ordinance already being sufficient.”

For the city council members, the vetoed conditions are part of a compromised agreement between the executive and the legislative branches during its budget deliberation, which are supposed to be respected by both parties. Unfortunately, the executive branch wanted to proceed on its own interpretation of the Gatchalian case that once budget is provided, there is nothing more that can be done by the council except to consider the budget for implementation.

It is the view of the body that while there is such a precedent or a ruling in the Gatchalian case, the propriety of the veto is entirely different thing that needs to be addressed upon not only by the executive and the legislative officials, who both agreed on such conditions, but also by the DBM in the course of its review.

The body wants the DBM to have a say on whether the agreed conditions imposed in the ordinance should remain or be respected in the implementation of the ordinance; otherwise, it will use its power to override the veto with two-third votes of its members.

Although not in a position to rule on the matter for the moment, DBM regional office officer-in-charge Irene Gahid committed to refer the issue to their legal service division and also to the Department of the Interior and Local Government. All issues and queries relative to the veto will be integrated in the course of their review.

They assured to fast-track review of the budget in keeping with the mandate of the local government Code to act within 90 days upon receipt or before 75 days as quality control and policy of their office.

Gahid added the city is not precluded to implement the appropriation ordinance pending the result of the review. In cases where there would be disallowances from their review for non-compliance of budgetary requirements and statutory obligation, it would be only then the city must stop the implementation of the affected item or items of the budget.

Feedback on the issues raised, including the DBM’s version and interpretation regarding the “power of the purse” of the sanggunian, would be included in their report.

While waiting result of the review and comment from the DBM, the body referred the veto message of the city mayor to the committee on laws for study and recommendation.

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