The deliberation on the P1.9 billion budget of the provincial government and P690 million for its Economic Enterprise Development Department for 2013 hit another snag, when the Sangguniang Panlalawigan failed to reach a quorum during its regular session yesterday.
Of the 15 SP members, only six were present: Board Members Salvador Escalante, Miller Serondo, Jose Benito Alonzo, Emilio Yulo III, Manuel Frederick Ko and Thea Mae Dino, who represents the Sangguniang Kabataan federation in the provincial council.
SP records show that Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez, the presiding officer, Board Members Patrick Lacson, Raul Rivera, George Gitano, Nehemias de la Cruz and Melvin Ibanez were on official business, while Board Members Helen Zafra, Pedro Zayco and Renato Gustilo were absent.
Board Member Mae Javellana, who is on sick leave, and Zafra had earlier attended the 18th year anniversary of the Provincial Council for Women at Business Inn in Bacolod City.
This was the fifth time that the SP had cancelled its regular session due to lack of quorum, in the past months.
Escalante, chairperson of the SP committee on Finance and Appropriations, yesterday said the proposed 2013 budget had already been approved by members of his committee. It was supposed to be approved on second reading yesterday by SP members, with two sessions remaining before the year ends.
Despite the absence of majority of the SP members, the Office of the Governor went on with the distribution of Christmas gifts that included martini, to each board member and Vice Governor Alvarez.
Majority of the board members who had voted against the proposed P10 million loan for the construction of six additional classrooms at the Negros Occidental High School in Bacolod City are perceived to be allies of Alvarez.
Escalante said he was supposed to report the approval of the Provincial Development Council on the 2013 Annual Investment Program, P368 million for priority programs and projects, as well as payment of the amortization loans on the P170 million bank, aside from endorsing for approval the proposed 2013 budget.
He said the 20 Percent Provincial Development Fund, estimated at P368 million, cannot be used, if it is not approved by the SP. But he added that the SP can hold a special session just for the deliberation and passage of the 2013 budget.
Provincial Budget Officer Jose Percival Salado had earlier said the P2 billion budget for 2013 will come from the IRA share of the province of P1.82 billion, back IRA of P16 million, local income of P72.9 million, and Economic Enterprise earnings of P108 million.* GPB