MAKATI CITY – Makati City Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo has expressed her dismay over the continued display of “narrow-minded partisanship” in the city council as opposition councilors refused to attend the special session to deliberate on this year’s budget.
“It saddens me that the councilors identified with the opposition have today chosen traditional politics over the greater interest of the people of Makati.” Lagdameo, presiding officer of the 17-member council, said in a statement.
“Despite the mayor’s call for a special session and her certifying the 2019 budget as urgent, “the opposition has chosen instead to purposely absent themselves from the plenary session. Instead, they met at the office of one of their members, in the presence only of their staff. By choosing to meet behind closed doors instead of the session hall, they failed the test of transparency,” she added.
The “narrow-minded partisanship” affects the welfare of senior citizens, youth, city employees and other sectors.
It can be recalled that Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay called for special sessions on Tuesday and Thursday to deliberate on the local government's 2019 budget.
But Councilors Nemesio Yabut, Jr., Divina Jacome, Shirley Aspillaga, Grazielle Iony de Lara-Bes, Ferdinand Eusebio, Leonardo Magpantay, Romeo Medina, Nelson Pasia, Arlene Ortega, Mary Ruth Tolentino, Marie Alethea Casal-Uy, and Evelyn Delfina Villamor did not attend the session.
These officials are allied with former Mayor Jejomar Binay Jr. who is seeking to replace his sister in this year’s local elections.
Councilors Maria Concepcion Yabut, Virgilio Hilario, Armand Padilla, Luis Javier, and Rodolfo San Pedro, meanwhile, were present.
In previous years, the Makati City Council would conclude its budget hearings and approve the budget by November of the current year to ensure that services and programs are not disrupted and citizens receive the benefits due them.
Lagdameo noted that after the political realignment, the process became agonizingly slow, either by design or negligence, or both.
“The budget process should be a non-partisan exercise. Instead, the opposition has chosen to weaponize it in service of their political agenda,” she stressed.
The opposition councilors have said that they have questions about certain items in the proposed budget of the Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO). The head of the DRRMO, Mr. Richard Raymund Rodriguez, has officially conveyed to the councilors his willingness to answer their question in today’s plenary session, in full view of the gallery and the residents watching the session on live stream.
The opposition, however, wanted to hold it behind closed doors. The Vice Mayor is questioning their aversion to transparency. She likewise underscored that if the councilors have questions on the DRRMO budget, then why are they revisiting the budgets of other offices which they have previously approved?
The opposition councilors are also introducing revisions to the budgets of certain departments and offices, contrary to Section 317 of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
Lagdameo reminded the councilors that these budget requests were prepared in accordance with targets set by the city government during the planning workshops which they attended and are fully aware of.
“Again, I reiterate my appeal to the opposition: let us set aside traditional politics and think of the people of Makati first,” she appealed.