Calbayog says "No" to House Bill number 24
Calbayog City (October 12) -- "The fight is not yet over", or so said Calbayog City Mayor and League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) Secretary-General Mel Senen Sarmiento in his message during the flag-raising ceremony on October 5, 2009.
He was referring to the new campaign of the LCP against unwarranted cityhood bills that have long-term implications to cities all over the Philippines. This time it is with House Bill No. 24.
House Bill No. 24 authored by Representative Ann Hofer of Zamboanga Sibugay, seeks to exempt capital towns of provinces without cities from the requirements of cityhood specifically on the locally generated income of 100 million pesos.
As per LCP memorandum sent to all City Mayors, the House Committee on Local Governments already ‘approved' the said bill. And based on records, LCP was not invited to express its official position.
A simulation provided by the LCP Secretariat showed that should HB 24 make it as a law, it will mean a significant IRA reduction for all cities. And with the implementation of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL3), it will mean a retrenchment of approximately 20,023 LGU employees all over the country.
For the City of Calbayog, it will be a reduction of Php 121,044,496.07 from its present IRA of Php 621,444,233.00. And the implementation of SSL3 could lead to the retrenchment of 473 employees; and not to mention lesser funds for other basic services.
Mayor Sarmiento said that retrenchment is not something that he can imagine. He said that the same sentiment is shared by the other City Mayors all over the country.
He urged everyone to continue the advocacy against undue conversion of cities. He urged the employees to write the Senators on the possible short term and long term effect of HB 24. Calbayog will also join other cities in writing their respective Congressmen requesting for the outright rejection of HB No. 24.
Mayor Sarmiento also reiterated his stand on cityhood and complying with what is prescribed by the law. He is not against municipalities being converted into cities. As long as these municipalities are qualified especially about the requirement on the locally-generated income, then there would be no reason to oppose such moves.
It would be recalled that early last year, Calbayog joined the LCP in opposing the conversion 16 municipalities into cities. It was a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court (PIA-Samar with Ron Ricafort) [top]