During a tete-a-tete with members of the Manila City Hall Reporters’ Association) the other day, Vice Mayor Ma. Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan (Honey Lacuna for brevity) assures all Manilans that the Manila City Council, which she heads as its presiding officer, will now be functioning fully toward helping Mayor Isko Moreno in bringing Manila back on its feet.
Before I go on, I would like to personally thank Lacuna, in behalf of MACHRA members, for her precious time since she had to push some schedules for that meeting.
Anyway, Lacuna, just like the rest of Manilans, is highly-flabbergasted at the Commission on Audit (COA) report saying the Manila City Hall is currently short of cash, by P4.39 billion. With only P5.36 billion in its general funds as against the city government’s payables and obligations totalling P9.05 billion as of December 31, 2018, indeed, the city has a deficit of P3.69 billion, on top of liabilities after it borrowed from some city funds, such as the development fund and intra-agency accounts that were meant for specific projects, among them an unrecorded disbursement of P345.94 million.
She says though, that this did not surprise her at all and just like Moreno, she no longer wants to issue hurting comments but definitely wants those responsible for the mess to answer for it.
Lacuna lamentably recounts how, for the past six years, the City Council, supposedly addressed as ‘Honorables,’ were treated rather dishonorably by the administration of then Mayor Erap Estrada and his underlings.
She bared that she pitied not herself or the councilors but their poor, innocent staff who were made to suffer most of the brunt that resulted from the conflict between Erap and Isko.
Lacuna said she is just too glad that the days of her virtually begging for the release of the salaries of their staff are over.
‘Sinasabi ko nga hindi na baleng ako ‘wag ninyong pasuwelduhin pero ‘yung mga walang kinalamang staff, huwag naman sana idamay,’ she said, as she recounted how she would persistently knock at the doors of the city’s budget authorities each pay day and how she would return to the office with a long face and problematically explain to the staff concerned that their salaries were delayed again.
She lauds the said staff though, who stood by her side and those of the councilors allied with Moreno, as they learned to live on dole-outs coming from her or the councilors while their salaries were on hold.
With the very gloomy financial condition Manila is in right now, Lacuna said she is just too sad that this had happened and that the burden and almost impossible mission of making the situation turn around has now fallen squarely on the shoulders of Moreno.
‘Nalulungkot ako kasi part ako ng administration from 2016 to 2019. Part na hindi part,’ she enthused, since she was not able to fully perform as vice mayor due to her party’s conflict with the past administration.
She said even her concerns on the city’s garbage situation was totally ignored but she continued egging on for a more efficient garbage collection system. It took a while before she finally got tired of it and gave up.
Now that the City Council is in good terms with the mayor, Lacuna, who is on her third and finall term as the city’s vice mayor and city council presiding officer, is looking forward to great, positive changes in the city via an executive-legislative agenda which, she said, never materialized during the past administration.
This is definitely good news for Manilans. This, we all have got to see.
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