ILOILO City – Failing to muster the required 10 votes to override Mayor Jose Espinosa III’s veto of portions of the approved 2019 P2.318-billion city government budget, majority members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) opted to just strike it out from the city council’s records.
It was not the proper process to challenge a veto as laid out in the Local Government Code, according to City Administrator Hernando Galvez. Thus Espinosa’s veto stays and is in effect, he stressed.
During yesterday’s SP session, eight SP members agreed there was no need to override veto because it was “defective” and “unenforceable” in the first place.
“You cannot override a veto that is not based on law,” explained Councilor Plaridel Nava, chairperson of the SP appropriations committee.
The SP was made up of 14 councilors. At least two-thirds – or 10 votes – were needed to override the veto.
The mayor’s partial veto covered items under Maintenance and Operating Expenses (MOOE) of the City Mayor’s Office except for Security Services and Project Dakip, and the salaries of casuals under several offices.
They were “deemed prejudicial to public welfare,” stated Espinosa in his veto message to the SP.
The city council approved the 2019 budget but split in two the MOOE and capital outlay of the chief executive as well as the city councilors’. Half of the budget for each office/account is appropriated from January to June 2019; the other half is from July to December 2019.
According to Espinosa, the split made the budget a “semi-budget” which was not allowed by law.
After dismissing Espinosa’s budget veto as “a mere scrap of paper”, eight members of the SP voted to pass a resolution urging the Local Finance Committee to follow the 2019 budget that the city council approved. The eight were Nava, Joshua Alim, Jay Treñas, Ely Estante, Armand Parcon, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Leila Luntao, and Irene Ong.
Galvez said “striking out” the mayor’s veto from the SP records was not the right process.
“If the city council had doubts on the mayor’s veto, the remedy under the law should have been to override it,” said Galvez.
As to the resolution addressed to the Local Finance Committee, Galvez said it was not binding and just an expression of the majority SP members’ sentiments.
Reached for his take on the matter, former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) regional director Alfonso Bedonia agreed with Galvez’s observation.
The “striking out” of the mayor’s veto from the SP’s records was just a face-saving strategy of the majority that did not have enough numbers to challenge Espinosa, he analysed.
“The correct act should have been to override the veto. It is up for the appropriate body to determine nga wala basis ang veto ni mayor…Kon indi nila ma-override, ma-take effect ang veto ni mayor,” said Bedonia.
On the other hand, those who supported the mayor’s veto were councilors Eduardo Eduardo Peñaredondo, R Leone Gerochi, Lyndon Acap, Mandrie Malabor, Leizl Zulueta-Salazar, and Candice Magdalane Tupas.
They agreed with Espinosa that the “items vetoed are not within the functions and authority of the City Council and if not corrected (thru veto) will be prejudicial to public service and welfare.”
The six councilors also believed the mayor’s veto power had been “rightfully exercised…in order and for the common good.”/PN