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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO provincial employees are planning to hold a sit down strike in the event that the 10 percent salary increase they are asking is not implemented.

The reported sit down strike circulated among capitol workers loomed ahead as the executive department and Sangguniang Panlalawigan have yet to reach a compromise on how to allocate additional funds for the salaries and wages of employees.

Several capitol workers reached by The Daily Guardian said they might resort to protest actions if the two departments don’t meet eye-to-eye.

“Why can’t they sit down and talk about this instead of exchanging legal views? We will go hungry if this continues,” a Capitol clerk said.

The Iloilo provincial government is staring at a P22.8-million deficit brought about by the aborted approval of the 2008 budget.

Governor Niel Tupas Sr. said they might run out of funds for salaries and wages for the month of October.

The Department of Budget and Management recently declared the 2008 budget inoperative due to technical flaws. The Capitol is now using the reenacted 2007 budget which is not enough to cover the salaries, wages and other benefits of provincial employees.

Some P4.9 million is also needed for the food of Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) inmates after their allowance was increased from P30 to P40.

The Provincial Engineering Office needs P2.5 million for fuel and lubricants of heavy equipment following the series of oil price hikes.

Tupas has submitted a P95.4-million supplemental budge to the SP to cover the pay hike and additional funding of other Capitol departments.

But during the committee on appropriations hearing Friday, Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the Local Government Code, particularly Section 321, prohibits the approval of any supplemental budget under a reenacted budget.

Suplico, committee on appropriations chair, said Tupas should instead submit a new proposed executive budget to arrest the fiscal deficit.    

“While we feel for the welfare of the workers, we cannot make a shortcut of the law. If the executive department submits a new proposed budget, we will act on it immediately. The Sanggunian is a passive institution and we will only act on things submitted to our attention,” Suplico said.

The hearing was also attended by Board Members June Mondejar, Jett Rojas and Shalene Hidalgo.

Department heads who were present included provincial legal officer Salvador Cabaluna III, budget officer Elena Lim, treasurer Cora Beloria, planning and development officer Mario Nillos, social welfare and development officer Neneth Pador, IRC warden Ricardo dela Paz and other Capitol executives.

Rojas broached a “peace talk” between the executive and legislative departments to iron out the budget war.

“Maybe we can sit together, talk in the vernacular instead of legalese. I believe we can come up with a compromise,” Rojas said.

Tupas and Suplico are at odds with each other after exchanging harsh accusations against each other in the 2007 elections.

Capitol employees earlier signed and circulated an open letter addressed to Tupas and the SP urging them to break the budget impasse and provide additional funds for their salaries and wages.

Yesterday, two more white papers were posted in the SP session hall and prominent spots of the Capitol urging employees to sign the petition.

The white papers also outlined the possible fund shortage for salaries and wages should the 10 percent pay hike is implemented.

Tupas said he will discourage employees from sitting on their work “but they should vent their grievances to the SP.”

“They have the right to express their grievances but not at the expense of our operation and public service,” Tupas said.

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