The Makati City councilors supporting the political comeback bid of former Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. finally attended a special session requested by Mayor Abigail Binay to discuss the long-delayed 2019 executive budget.
But Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo expressed concern to the councilors’ proposal to cut the P18.17- billion budget cut by P244 million, saying the move will deprive constituents of better services and benefits.
Among the services to be affected are employment programs for the youth, with P76.8 million slashed from the Government Internship Program and Special Program for the Employment of Students along with 7,300 target beneficiaries.
The Health department’s budget for dengue kits was reduced by P38 million, while P10 million was taken off the budget for the Lingkod Bayan Caravan.
The caravan held every Saturday in a designated barangay brings city services directly to the residents. These include free medical, dental and diagnostic services, free legal services and marriage counselling, free vaccination and other veterinary services for their pets, and free meals to residents.
The caravan also serves as a one-stop-shop for Makatizens applying for or renewing their Yellow Card, Blu Card, PWD Card, and other benefit cards.
“These budget cuts will have serious repercussions on each department’s ability to serve our constituents. Furthermore, these cuts will hamper the execution of programs and projects across various sectors–including health, education, public safety, senior care, employment programs, and disaster management, among others,” Lagdameo said.
“By refusing to pass the proposed budget presented by each department, the opposition councilors will be depriving Makati residents of the enhanced services and programs they rightfully deserve,” she added.
The vice mayor reminded the opposition councilors that the heads of city departments and offices dutifully submitted their respective Annual Investment Programs early on for review by the councilors, particularly the Committee on Appropriations and Budget which conducted budget hearings as early as September.
“I am surprised by this development and I would like ask our councilors why no objections were raised during the initial hearings. If there were questions on the projects being proposed, these should have been raised at that point,” she said.
Lagdameo explained that the department and office heads were not even consulted about the budget cuts, nor given the chance to again defend their budgets before the committee.
Minority floor leader Councilor Ma. Concepcion Yabut seconded Lagdameo, saying it was “not fair to subject the projects and budgets of the departments to amendments without giving them the chance to explain and defend them.”
Lagdameo appealed to the opposition councilors to reconsider the proposed budget for each department and weigh the merits of projects, services, and innovations being proposed.
“We hope to continue giving Makatizens the best service through programs that prioritize their welfare, safety, and overall well-being,” she stated.
Earlier, the vice mayor expressed her dismay over the budget cuts and called out the opposition councilors for their “narrow-minded partisanship.”
She recalled that in the previous council sessions this January, opposition councilors had been harping on the budget of one office.
“Why now are they suddenly questioning the other 11 departments? The same departments whose budgets were previously approved by the Committee on Appropriations and Budget,” Lagdameo said.
Members of the opposition who proposed the budget cuts are 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.
These councilors are reportedly supporting the mayoralty bid of Junjun Binay who is going against his sister, who is the incumbent mayor Abby Binay, in the coming May elections.