Day 1 of the New Year and I guess I need to start the countdown to the end of my 3rd term in the City Council.

2009 would be my last full year in the City Council. My 9-year, 3-term stint at the local legsilative body ends on June 30, 2010.

There are still plenty of work to do and this year would indeed be a busy one. After taking it slow the past year to help me recover from my stomach ailment, I must now take extra effort to work harder and try to complete my legislative agenda.

January 6 is the resumption of the City Council session and I have already lined up three measures, namely, the extension up to January 31 the period for the renewal of business licenses, which is set by law during the first 20 days of the month; preparations for the Chinese New Year and inauguration of the second arch at Chinatown; and release of the balance of the city government Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) as a result of the Supreme Court decision declaring the conversion of 16 towns into new cities last year as illegal.

On the last issue, the city is supposed to receive P2.055 billion in IRA shares last year. But because of the creation of new cities, this was reduced to P1.861 billion. Instead of an increase of P263 million from the previous year, the city got only an additional P69 million, thereby losing about P194 million.

With the High Court ruling, the city rightfully deserves to receive the full share of the IRA. We need this money to help pump prime the local economy and provide more social services as we face the effects of the global recession in our city.

Thank you to the Christmas cheers from Franklyn Ong of Pasajero Motors, Johnny Martinez of Mantex and DCWD.

Last call

Last call for our online poll at the right sidebar.

Vote now before the City Council decide tomorrow.

7:50 a.m.

Loan it is

At the City Council public hearing yesterday on the unreleased IRA, the city government has opted to take out a loan from the government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines.

This is the most advantageous option available.

The Provincial Board of Pangasinan is going the same way in collecting its P79 Million IRA differential.

What to do with P142 Million? Another reader has posted a comment. Please check the sidebar. He wants roads to be paved in his village.

6:03 a.m.

Update on Activities

Yesterday, I represented Mayor Rody Duterte at the opening of the new showroom of Canon Marketing (Philippines) at Bajada. The expanded sales and service center is proof of the imaging company’s growth in this part of the country. An executive from the company flew in from Singapore to grace the occasion. In my brief remarks, I said the city government adheres too in Canon’s philosophy – living and working together for the common good! Canon’s Philippine CEO Ramon Arteficio was somewhat surprised to hear these words from me. I told him I read it in their website. Canon’s Regional Head here is Nelson Perez. Visit them infront of the Davao City Water District.

Today, my office will host an orientation seminar on the Botika ng Barangay Project of the Department of Health. Last year, I partnered with DOH in helping 21 barangays set up their village pharmacies. The project does not only make affordable medicines available in communities but also help train BNB operators become entrepreneurs. DOH provides seed capital of P25,000 worth of medicines which the BNB must replenish with their sales. I am hoping another batch of beneficiary-barangays would be granted their BNB.

On Saturday, the National Coalition Against Child Labor in Commercial Agriculture will spearhead once again the marking of the World Day Against Child Labor in the city. I have been a permanent fixture in the activities of this coalition and so I was invited again to speak at its rally at the Almendras Gym. A march will precede the program from Rizal Park to the Gym.

7:26 a.m.

Poll update

Here’s the latest on our online poll:

And thanks to Dr. Arnel, a Davaoeno now in California, and Boy Cubillas for their comments and suggestions. Read them on comments section at the right sidebar.

6:50 a.m.

The City Council will not hold its regular session today. Instead, a number of us would attend a conference with the Philippine Reclamation Authority regarding the controversial baywalk project of Queensland along Times Beach and proposals to reclaim part of the city government’s property under water also in Times Beach.

Other members of the City Council will be at the public hearing on the IRA share (our online poll) and the proposed Supplemental Budget No. 1 approved on First Reading during our June 17 session.

7:23 a.m.

Back online 4

I’m up early this morning to prepare for another busy day.

I will speak at the Davao Christian Leadership Breakfast Forum at 7 a.m. at the Grand Men Seng Hotel. This would be my sixth appearance at this fellowship attended by priests, pastors, laypeople and their guests.

I will discuss current issues confronting our consumers from food shortages, high prices, product standards and consumer rights.

After this forum, I will be off to Felis Beach Resort for the Mindanao Island Consultation for the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development which will be held in Manila in October. This regional consultation will be attended by civil society groups, while the global forum would be attended by UN member countries.

I would be wearing two hats in this meeting. First, to represent Mayor Rody Duterte during the opening rites, and Second, to participate as the official representative of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation where I currently sit as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Results of this island-wide consultation will be presented during the Manila global forum.

Yesterday, the City Council held a special session to discuss the monetization of part of the city’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) in 2001 and 2003. Due to the reenacted budgets of the national government during these two years, the city has a differential amounting to P142 million.

I presided the debates of the City Council on how best to get this sum. The national government is offering us two ways:

Option 1 is to get this money by seven installments starting May 2009 to May 2015; or

Option 2 is to get the P142 million now at a discounted rate of just 70 percent.

But during the discussion, we looked at another option – borrow money from Land Bank against this unreleased IRA share. That way, we get the whole amount and pay the interests from our regular IRA.

For lack of time, we decided in postponing the decision until the July 1 Regular Session. But, offhand, many of our colleagues are favoring the third option.

What do you think?

3:43 a.m.

Update – I added an online poll on my right sidebar – A P142 Million Question. Please vote!

5:49 a.m.