July 18 - July 31, 2005

Jay S. Ramos

Misinformation and disinformation

In a surprising twist, the Sanggunian Panlalawigan deferred anew the issue regarding the veto override of certain items in the Laoag City 2005 budget. After several weeks of deliberation, following successive privilege speeches by the Hon. Peralta, and the Hon. Lazo, the Hon. Michael M. Keon rendered his privilege speech enjoining the members of the body to avoid deciding the issue on “partisan” lines, given that both sides have presented logical arguments. Keon instead proposed that the issue be referred to the courts through a motion calling for “declaratory relief.” Legal sources disclose that this is nothing more than a motion to seek the counsel and advise of the courts as according to Keon, “there is no jurisprudence on this matter,” thus would it not be more appropriate to elevate this to the courts that there may be jurisprudence?

Contrary to the misinformation being peddled about by some quarters in the executive branch of Laoag City, the issue does not concern the entire 2005 budget, only certain items that have been vetoed by the city mayor and subsequently overridden by the council.

Accordingly, Vice Governor Windell Chua hit the nail squarely on the head: “the Laoag City budget is not the issue here,” the budget amounting to about P300 Million has already been approved. The issue only concerns certain items of the budget that have been vetoed, totaling only about P10 Million pesos.

As to the disinformation being spread that a vote confirming the override or a deferment will result in hampering the delivery of basic services or even in paralysis of city government, there is simply no truth to this; the clarification of the issue makes things quite clear and exposes the lies and falsehoods being spread by some quarters to discredit the initiatives of the ‘reform bloc’.

We slashed certain items, particularly those based on our review of the previous budgets, which were prone to abuse. That a majority of these accounts fall under the office of the chief executive, may explain the vehement objections to and the subsequent veto of these items.

The council is more than willing to address whatever may be the shortfalls provided that a need is proven; in fact we have already allocated additional funds to such departments as the DPS and the Laoag City PNP. However, the council will never issue a “blank check.” To avoid a repeat of this tradition of abuse and corruption concerning the “people’s money” the council has opted to be more stringent, stressing the need for accountability and responsibility in the disbursement of city funds.

The definition of misinformation is to give out the wrong information; disinformation on the other hand is deliberately misleading information often making use of a few facts to bolster a false impression or what is referred to as propaganda. The negative connotations associated with the use of propaganda stem from the extensive use of this tool by the discredited Nazi government; unfortunately some quarters in the city administration have deemed to emulate the Nazi model desiring a stifling of the reform initiative in order to continue the tradition of excess and abuse by the previous administration. These have become detrimental to the progress of the city and to the upliftment of our constituents.

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