The city government’s 2022 annual budget ballooned to P5.31 billion, nearly double compared to its record-high 2021 appropriations, bankrolling its infrastructure and development programs.

Councilor Victor Oliveros, chairman of the committee on appropriations, on Wednesday during his committee report, said that the proposed budget increased to P5,312,628,319.22 billion compared to the P3.72 billion last year, which was primarily due to the Mandanas ruling expected to take effect in 2022.

“From the internal revenue allotment (IRA) we have received a P4.48 billion pesos which is 84.39 percent of the total budget and the local revenue estimated 798 million or 15.61 percent. This is higher by 42.65 percent from last year’s budget which is P3.7,” Oliveros said.

As a result of the Mandanas Ruling by the Supreme Court in 2018, the internal revenue allotment are programmed to increase by 55 percent in the 2022 budget, reaching P1.08 trillion or 4.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product compared to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2021.

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The city government’s proposed P5,312,628,319.22 billion 2022 budget is 42.65 percent higher than its annual general fund budget last year.

According to Oliveros, P2.7 billion of which will be spent for other operating expenses which is the “largest” budget allocation for 2022, while P958 million of which was allocated for personal services.

“Of the proposed expenditures, and its major expense by class there is an allocation to personal services amounting to P958 million, maintenance and other operating expense which is the largest amounting to P2.7 billion, financial expenses this allocation to service our desk is P142 million, while capital outlay P1,000,000,014,” he said.

Unnecessary spendings

Meanwhile, Councilor Peter Maristela, expressed reservation about the need for a P50 million zipline and P8 million fund for vlogging contest of city tourism, citing that it was “unnecessary” in the midst of the pandemic.

“Naglaan tayo ng P50 million budget para sa zipline. Sa tingin ko po hindi kinakailangan mag lagay ng zipline sa panahon ng pandemya ngayon. At doon naman sa ating city tourism may pondo pa na P8 million para sa mga vloggers. Hindi ko po alam bakit napakaraming activities, mayroon pang triathlon. Palagay ko hindi napapanahon,” Maristela said.

Maristela also pointed to the allocation of the P37 million for barangays citing that it may be used for politics as elections near.

“Mayroon din tayong P37 million para sa ugnayan sa barangay na palagay ko ay mukhang gagamitin lang sa pamumulitika sa darating na eleksyon although marami tayong nakikitang magagandang programa sa ating budget, yon lamang ang aking naging observation kaya ako ay may reservation sa pagpasa para sa budget na ito for 2022,” he said.

Given the challenges posed by COVID-19, Oliveros responded that the said projects need to be pushed through. He also said that whether you like it or not, being a public figure will be criticized.

“Alam natin na mayroong pandemya ngayon pero being the City of Puerto Princesa ay hindi po tayo dapat magpatali sa pandemya. Tayo ay kinakailangan mag handa ng activities and project. Although the pandemic is here to stay, but we cannot be defeated by this COVID, which eventually be a normal thing just like flu,” Oliveros said.

And when you are in the public service, lahat po ng kilos natin whether we like it or not is pulitika. Napakagaganda po ng mga proyekto na ito at ito ay sinusuportahan ng mas nakararami sa atin. Kailangan natin ng nag vvlog because this is the trend now,” he said. (With a report from Jeshyl Guiroy)

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.