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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SP defers passage of 2016 budget again

By:  Francisco E. Dosdos, Jr.

Bayani Areola
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines (27 Jan 2016) - The 2016 budget virtually froze in the Sangguniang Panlungsod as the Body again deferred approval during its regular session this afternoon (26 January 2016).  

SP Committee on Finance and Appropriations Vice Chairman Councilor Bayani Areola, who will be stepping out of office on June 30 after his third term, told newsmen that the Executive Budget they were discussing was the fourth "final" version submitted to them by the Local Finance Committee for deliberation and passage.

He said that the Confidential/Peace and Order Fund has been trimmed down to P3 million, while the proposed appropriation of over half a million pesos for the Court of Appeals is still under consideration due to feared funding constraints.

Roy Lagunzad Openiano
In his report to the Body, Economic Enterprise and Development Committee Chairman Councilor Roy Lagunzad Openiano said that pursuant to the assignment given him, he held a meeting with the department and division heads of Economic Enterprise and Development Management Office (EEDMO) and the latter said they cannot given an assurance that their projected income for 2016 can be attained.

It was said that the target of the department for 2016 is higher by around P20 million than the actual income of 2015.

Dr. Usafeno F. Obial
Committee on Health Chairman Councilor Usafeno F. Obial also informed that the present OIC Head of the Gregorio T. Lluch Memorial Hospital is not optimistic that they can achieve their projected collection target.

He said that Dr. Anita Saloma who prepared the projections can no longer be asked to explain the targets because she had already retired from the service.

Dr. Anita Saloma
Areola said that if the Budget is approved based on these bloated collection targets, he fears that by the third quarter of the current year a tremendous income shortfall will occur and budgeted expense items would not be funded.

It may now take quite some time to determine which of the proposed expense items should be dropped from the Budget in order to balance the figures with the reduced income projections.

The session adjourned with a Motion to call the Local Finance Committee to further enlighten the Body on the said issues.

It may also be worthwhile noting that many accounts payable last year have been obligated for 2016 due to funding shortfalls.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Iligan City mayor works inside jail

Accused Regencia accosted by PNP escorts
during the Oct. 19, 2015 hearing at RTC Initao
By:  Richel V. Umel

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines (24 Jan 2016) - Confusion is gripping the city as jailed Mayor Celso Regencia, who has been accused of masterminding the 2014 ambush of Rep. Vicente Belmonte, continues to discharge the functions of the city's chief executive.

Vice Mayor Ruderic C. Marzo, who is currently on official leave, said Supreme Court jurisprudence and latest rulings of the Office of the Ombudsman bar any local chief executive detained for a criminal offense from performing his official duties and functions.

"Iligan City continues to be run by a city mayor presently detained for a non-bailable offense at the Iligan City jail," he said.

This writer sought Regencia's reaction but was not allowed to see the mayor in jail.

Marzo blamed the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in December 2015 by Judge Arthur Abundiente, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court of Iligan and Lanao del Norte, in favor of Regencia.

He said the TRO, which later ripened into a writ of preliminary injunction, installed back Regencia until the end of his elected term in June 2016.  Marzo, however, said this went against Supreme Court and Ombudsman jurisprudence.

He said in its August 2015 decision, the Ombudsman ruled that the detention of Matanao, Davao del Sur Mayor Vicente Fernandez created a temporary vacancy in the town's government and that Fernandez was prohibited from performing the duties and functions of the Office of the Mayor.

Marzo said the Ombudsman cited Supreme Court's decision in G.R. No. 89591-96 on the case of People vs. Maceda.

The writ is now being reviewed by the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro City.

Marzo said Regencia continued to appoint officials, collect salary, withdraw intelligence and confidential funds, sign and authorize signing of payrolls and allow disbursement of funds.

Regencia is charged with masterminding the Dec. 11, 2014 ambush that Belmonte, a former ally, barely survived.

Belmonte was on his way home from the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Orietal when his vehicle was fired at by several suspects.

Three of his security escorts were killed while Belmonte, along with three others, were injured.

Belmonte said he had requested the Supreme Court to transfer the venue of the case to Manila, citing continued security threats to him.

"I have gathered information from the military that the (other suspects who remain at large) are here and it's easier for them to get me," he said.

He said he also moved for Regencia's transfer from the Iligan City jail to the Misamis Oriental provincial jail.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ombudsman dismisses Cagayan de Oro Mayor Moreno

By:  Alwen Saliring
SunStar Cagayan de Oro

CAGAYAN DE ORO (5 Nov 2015) - The re-election bid of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno may now be in question following an order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing Moreno from service and perpetually barring him from holding public office.

In a decision approved on October 6, 2015 and released yesterday, November 5, the Office of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found Mayor Moreno of having committed Grave Misconduct for entering into a settlement agreement with Ajinomoto Philippines without prior authorization from the City Council, in violation of Republic Act No. 7160 (The Local Government Code).

In a statement posted at the official website of the Office of the Ombudsman, Moreno was held liable for entering into a court agreement with Ajinomoto Philippines Corporation on August 2014, which allowed the latter to pay P300,000 instead of its original local business tax deficiency of P2.9 million.

The Office of the Ombudsman ruled that 'the approval of the agreement by the court cannot, in any way, legitimize the acts of Moreno.'

Glenn Banez, officer-in-charge of the City Treasurer's Office, was also dismissed together with Moreno.

Calling the decision "a serious miscarriage of justice," Moreno said the Ombudsman failed to take into account his counter-affidavit which he filed on April 20, 2015 through his and Banez's lawyer, Atty. Jonathan Pacuribot, in response to a case filed by former Taglimao village chief William Guialani in March this year.

"They (Office of the Ombudsman) missed out on my counter-affidavit and that is serious miscarriage of justice," Moreno said in a hastily-called press conference Thursday afternoon.

Moreno said he has yet to receive a copy of the Ombudsman decision, but said he has read the decision from 'other sources' and is aware of its contents.

"Ang order nag-ingon nga I have not filed my counter-affidavit sa reklamo (but) the truth of the matter is I have filed," he said.

Moreno also questioned the Ombudsman decision which he branded as "harsh, cruel, and excessive," saying the investigation failed to take into account his answer on Guialani's March complaint.

"I have filed my counter-affidavit well on time and in my counter-affidavit, it is very clear that I had no knowledge about the alleged settlement and I have not approved it.  How could I be held liable for that," he said.

Moreno said he plans to file a motion for reconsideration as soon as he receives a copy of the Ombudsman decision and said he may ask the Court of Appeals for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the execution of the order.

Moreno's and Banez's troubles began after the latter reclassified Ajinomoto's product from 'essential' to 'non-essential' in an effort to enhance the city's revenue collection.

Banez noted that Ajinomoto's product was wrongly classified, depriving the city from collecting a higher tax rate.

In Moreno's counter-affidavit, which Moreno said was submitted to the Ombudsman, Moreno noted that Ajinomoto had been paying taxes from 2006-2011 based on the wrong classification and the P2.9-million covers the tax payment deficiency, surcharge, and interest of the corporation for the said period which could not be otherwise retroactively collected.

With the August 2014 settlement, Moreno's counter-affidavit notes that the company has agreed to the reclassification beginning on 2014.

The Ombudsman decision, however, pointed out that the actions of both Moreno and Banez were not allowed without a corresponding resolution from the City Council.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fugitive Iligan City mayor surrenders after two months in hiding

By:  Froilan Gallardo
Manila Standard Today

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The fugitive Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia, who has been in hiding because of his alleged involvement in the ambush of Rep. Vicente Belmonte, surrendered to a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge here on Monday morning, the National Bureau of Investigation said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Marawi teenage girl raped and torched; residents lynch 4 suspects

Roxanne Roble Arevalo

MARAWI City (18 Aug 2015) - The furious mob of residents took turns punching the four suspects believed to have raped and torched to death a hapless teenage girl inside the victim's house in Marawi City.

Family and relatives demand to burn to death the rape and murder suspects

 By:  Divina Morgia Suson

MARAWI City (18 Aug 2015) - The police force this City is on full alert in securing the four (4) detained suspects accused of rape and murder of a 15-year old lass Friday.

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