Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte Mayor Ernesto Evangelista has called on the municipality’s Sangguniang Bayan (SB) under the leadership of Vice-Mayor Gabriel Eric Estela to decide on which priority should the local government unit (LGU) must pursue, whether a soil analysis laboratory should be established in town or the purchase eight vehicles to be funded in the proposed 2022 budget.
In a statement issued, Evangelista urged the members of the SB to immediately resolve the issue on the opening of the legislative session on Monday (Nov. 22).
The mayor also expressed concern about the matter, pointing out that its resolution will help fast-track the preparations of the 2022 budget of the municipality.
The 2022 proposed budget of Santo Tomas hit a snag at the SB’s Committee on Finance, Budget, and Appropriations chaired by Councilor Cromwell S. Cocamas during the deliberations conducted on Nov. 17 when Councilor Dario Romano questioned the proposed purchase of the eight vehicles amounting to PHP11.2 million.
Romano said the purchase of said vehicles, which are intended for the members of the SB, is inappropriate considering that the farmers in the town need more interventions from the LGU amidst the continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Resolve the issue once and for all otherwise, I would bring the matter in a proper forum. It has been months since the Joint Executive and Legislative Budget hearing was done and yet nothing happens,” Evangelista said.
A verbal altercation among the members of the SB during the Nov. 17 delibrations as they raised contrasting opinions on the issue.
“l respect the leadership of the Sangguniang Bayan, and I urge the August Body to resolve the issue at hand among themselves so as not to delay the passage of the 2022 budget. The swift passage of the 2022 budget is crucial in funding programs, projects, and activities for 2022 and in ensuring budgetary preparedness to enable the Municipal Government of Santo Tomas to perform its mandate effectively,” Evangelista said.
Meanwhile, Municipal Administrator Elisa Evangelista said the Executive Branch of Sto. Tomas LGU is monitoring the issue, saying that they will not allow delays in the passage of the 2022 budget.
“We are closely monitoring the issue. If the Sangguniang Bayan delays the passage of the 2022 budget of the LGU, this would likely hobble the economic recovery of the whole municipality. We will not allow a reenacted budget as this will prevent the release of much-needed funds for the pandemic response and infrastructure projects,” Administrator Evangelista said.
She added that a reenacted budget could risk the town’s economic recovery next year, which will force the municipal government to spend less.
The town’s administrator also warned that a legal team is already keeping an eye on the issue. (NW)