KIDAPAWAN CITY – A local legislator here quizzed a health official for the alleged failure of the city government to include in the 2021 annual budget the funding for the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
During the budget hearing on Tuesday, City Vice-Mayor and City Sanggunian’s presiding officer Jivy Roe ‘Jiv-Jiv’ Bombeo, sought an explanation from City Health Officer Dr. Jocelyn Incienzo after learning there has been no insertion of a comprehensive plan to fight the virus in the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Ordinance.
Incienzo told Bombeo that she only has P600,000 allotted for COVID-19 in her office.
“But for the city’s comprehensive plan to fight the virus, I do not know if there is,” Incienzo said during the two-day budget hearing that culminated on October 20.
Bombeo was informed that the completion of a plan against COVID-19 is still ‘in progress’ and being prepared by the City Planning and Development Office (CPDC) with support from the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 and the Local Finance Committee.
“I hope they can finish that as soon as possible. Kasi, pag hindi, no budget will be allotted for it in 2021. Ang mangyayari niyan, puro supplemental budget na lang ang ating gagawin,” said Bombeo.
The city has a Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (TTMF) located inside the Kidapawan City Hospital, two isolation facilities, and several quarantine stations in 40 barangays in the city.
As of October 21, the city’s TTMF caters to 11 active COVID-19 cases, all symptomatic. Since March this year, the city has 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases with one reported death, data from the City’s IATF and City Information Office showed.
Bombeo said he was”‘utterly frustrated and upset” after he learned that the Office of the City Mayor that prepared the annual budget gave his office and two other offices under the Sangguniang Panglungsod “almost zero funding” for their maintenance operating and other expenses (MOOE) for 2021.
“How can we operate with this almost zero funding? My office was given only P1.3 million for MOOE in 2021 as compared to P20 million in 2020,” he said.
The Office of the Sangguniang Panglungsod was given an MOOE of P36,000 for 2021, as well as the Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian.
“What can we get from the P36,000 as MOOE? We can’t even buy office supplies for the whole year. There will be no more allocations for fuel and training. Ano na ngayon?,” asked SP Secretary Atty. Christopher Cabelin.
Bombeo said he was surprised when none among the 12 council members opposed the “almost zero funding” for their office.
The 12 councilors,nine are regular members and the rest are ex-officio members, are considered the “super majority,” according to City councilor Ruby Padilla-Sison.
Mayor Evangelista said that the approval of the 2021 annual budget rests on the Sanggunian.
He did not make any comment about the “almost zero funding” the Local Finance Committee and his office allotted for the Sanggunian.