ILOILO City – Cong. Jerry Treñas’ allies in the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) are boycotting today’s special session called by Mayor Jose Espinosa III to tackle a request to declare a state of calamity due to water scarcity brought about by the El Niño phenomenon.
The special session is scheduled at 2 p.m.
Presiding officer Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, also an ally of Treñas, said the boycott would effectively derail a declaration of a state of calamity which would otherwise allow the city government to use its P121-million calamity fund.
“I cannot see any reason nga mag-approve kita (release) sang calamity fund, nga we have to declare a state of calamity. Gusto ko ‘ya specific, wala nabutang kon pila ang amount (to be disbursed). Target nila the whole calamity fund (but) ang kinahanglanon naton indi man amo na kadako,” said Ganzon.
He and councilor allies pressed for the use of the city’s trust fund instead.
Aside from Ganzon, the following councilors announced yesterday they were taking a leave today: Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Jay Treñas, Ely Estante, and Irene Ong. Councilor Leila Luntao, on the other hand, is on official travel. It was unclear as of this writing if Councilor Armand Parcon also filed a leave of absence for today.
All of these councilors are seeking reelection under the team of Treñas as mayor and Ganzon as vice mayor. They were absent, too, on Tuesday’s regular SP session.
With their absence today, the SP won’t be able to hold a special session because there would be no quorum, said Ganzon.
Citing the Local Government Code, Ganzon said the 15-member SP (including him as presiding officer) needs nine members present to constitute a quorum.
Only eight councilors are expected to show up at the SP session hall today – six Espinosa allies Eduardo Peñaredondo, Candice Magdalene Tupas, Leizl Zulueta-Salazar, R Leone Geroche, Lyndon Acap, and Mandrie Malabaor, and councilors Plaridel Nava and Joshua Alim.
Baronda, chairperson of the SP committee on social welfare and disaster preparedness, said the current situation did not meet the conditions to declare a state of calamity.
Citing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) guidelines, Baronda said the city has yet to meet the following conditions:
* 20 percent of the local population are affected
* 40 percent of the means of livelihood have been damaged
* major roads and bridges have been damaged or impassable
* widespread destruction
* disruption of lifelines like power, water and communications
In fact, said Baronda, only four out of 180 barangay councils – Bo. Obrero, Mansaya, Cochero, and San Juan – passed resolutions asking assistance from the city government due to water scarcity.
She also said the concerns of these four villages could be amply addressed by the city government’s trust fund of P57 million.
Baronda also pointed to the report of City Agriculturist Romulo Pangantihon that out of 379 hectares of agricultural land in the city, only 18.5 hectares in barangays Lanit and Tacas were affected by water scarcity.
On top of this, the lady city councilor also said the Metro Iloilo Water District had not confirmed there’s a water crisis./PN