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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, June 2, 2014
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‘Father proposes, son disposes’

The financial affairs of Bacolod City, especially its P1.3 billion budget, are now in the hands of the father-and-son tandem of Mayor Monico Puentevella and his son, Councilor Claudio.

That, Councilor Bobby Rojas said, is because, Councilor Claudio is now the chairman of the city council committee on finance, a position where he is expected to approve and disapprove, support or reject, funding for the city’s projects and activities and other financial matters.

So now we have a set-up where the father proposes, and the son disposes, Rojas said. Mayor Puentevella proposes how to spend the money of the city, and his son approves or sponsors its approval in the city council, he added.

Councilor Puentevella got the finance committee during the reorganization of Sangguniang Panlungsod last week. Puentevella allies now control the SP.

This further means, Rojas also said, that the city has effectively given up the built-in checks and balances in our system, and left its financial matters to the discretion of a father and his son.

This isn’t illegal, Rojas clarified, but added that this is dangerous. For the first time in our history, we can say that Bacolod’s financial affairs have become an issue to be discussed on one family’s dining table, he further said.

Rojas, who is the immediate past finance committee chair, said the reorganization was expected, considering that there is a new majority in the city council.

“Although we in the minority have been and continue to be cooperative with the administration, it is their prerogative to change the committee chairmanships even before one year has lapsed,” Rojas also said, adding that he had no quarrel with the reorganization. It is just natural for the majority to do what they think is best.

“But I had thought they would choose somebody more senior in their ranks to handle finance,” he added, “not somebody like Councilor Puentevella who is a freshman and the son of the incumbent mayor. How can we expect the SP to scrutinize or check the financial requests of the administration, when the official who is supposed to do that is the son of the official who makes the request?” He asked.

Rojas said it took him three terms to get appointed to the finance committee last year. This has always been given to a senior councilor, “I can only wonder why this has been given to a freshman, and is it because he is the mayor’s son?”*

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