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You know this, you know this Atty. Yong! wailed Arcales in court

By GINA DEAN-RAGUDO, Samar News.com
September 6, 2010

CALBAYOG CITY  –  You know this! You know this Atty. Yong! says former Samar Vice-Governor now  Catbalogan City Councilor Ernesto Arcales during a court hearing of TRO extension last September 3, 2010 at RTC Branch 31 Calbayog.

Arcales, was referring to some probabilities if the budget will undergo DBM review at the Regional Office 8. The exhaustion of administrative remedy is provided for by law, but there are certain exemptions especially when the matter is so urgent that even DBM review maybe futile.

He added that the irregular, invalid ordinance was enacted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on August 26, 2010 and allegedly approved by the governor on the same day. Since September 1, checks have been prepared, kept in the office of the provincial treasurer and attempted to encash the checks at Land Bank Catbalogan.

“The exhaustion of administrative remedies is sometimes liberalized. If we wait for the DBM review, I don’t know how much from the P1.2 Billion will still remain”, stressed Arcales.

The purpose of DBM review is not about stopping the disbursement of the budget. The court is the proper forum that can block any act of release by way of a special civil action.

Arcales statements was sustained by Atty. Roger Casurao who disclosed that accountant’s advice was made and they are aware of the check numbers issued as enumerated in the document prepared by no less than the provincial accountant.

To support the petitioners’ allegations, Assistant Provincial Accountant Frank Detosil was made to testify in court. He admitted having talked personally with the provincial treasurer on September 2 and confirmed that there were adjustments formulated under a new rate in the payroll of the provincial employees; and this was done under the instruction of the Budget Officer. Since the approval of the controversial budget, local financing offices have been very busy working overtime or until wee hours in the morning. Checks have been issued on August 27, the day after the approval of 2010 budget.

Samarnews.com was able to get hold a copy of the unsigned Accountant’s Advice and contained therein are the names of the special disbursing officers in charge of the salaries and wages of the employees with the corresponding checks accumulating a total amount of P38, 462, 302.

Detosil said that an Accountant’s Advice is an added mechanism on the part of the agency issuing the checks which is a confirmation of the authenticity, regularity of the checks issued – giving “go signal” to the bank.

Ultimately, the issue was resolved on the propriety of extending the Temporary Restraining Order. The September 3 hearing was the last day of the 72-hour TRO issued by the court effective August 31, 2010 upon petition filed by the seven board members headed by Majority Floor Leader Charlie Coñejos.

After more or less 3 hours debating in court, incorporating the following issues: a) the capacity i.e. personal or official of the respondents in relation to the act/s committed surrounding the approval of the budget; b) the representation of the counsels (Atty. Alex Gelera, Calbayog City Councilor Rogelio Casurao and Catbalogan City Councilor Ernesto Arcales) knowing their present status as holders of elective and/or appointive positions in the government; c) and the banner story entitled “Majority Pushes TRO to Block Budget Release” published at Samarnews.com on September 3 that caused adverse effect on the part of  the respondents as they perceived it to be a misinformation to the public, it was resolved in favor of the petitioners.

Based on the arguments presented, the court found the testimony of Assistant Provincial Accountant Frank Detosil convincing; that there’s a need to expedite the disposition of the case as it involves the P1.2 Billion budget of the province. To uphold the status quo so that no other act/s be effected involving the seriously questioned annual budget and to protect the funds of the public, it finally decided to extend the Temporary Restraining Order for another 17 days enjoining all the respondents from implementing the 2010 budget. They were given 10 days to comment from the oral issuance of said TRO.