By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHO is at fault for the delay in the discussion on the financial assistance for barangay volunteer workers in the province of Iloilo?

 

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan was supposed to discuss during its session Monday the financial aid for more or less 10,000 barangay volunteers worth P23 million but the matter was not included in its calendar. Each volunteer will receive P2,000 under the aid package.

 

Governor Niel Tupas Sr. submitted a supplemental budget for the financial aid last week and he expected the SP’s committee on appropriations chaired by Vice Governor Rolex Suplico to act and approve the measure.

 

Suplico said he was not able to act on the supplemental budget because of the non-submission of the master list of barangay-based volunteers.

 

The vice governor said he needed the data to determine who will receive the financial aid given to volunteer workers annually.

 

But Marina Imperial, president of the province-wide Federation of Barangay Health Workers, said in a radio interview that she and other volunteer workers brought to Suplico’s office the thick folders containing the master list of volunteers Friday last week.

 

“But he declined to receive the documents,” Imperial told Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

 

Imperial’s statement was backed by Edith Judicpa, barangay health worker from Pavia.

 

Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada was quick to chastise Suplico for “distorting the truth” and “deliberately prolonging the anxiety” of these volunteers.

 

“This is a clear case of foot dragging as Suplico and his allies are looking for lame excuses not to approve the honorarium for the volunteers,” Mejorada said. “The big lie being peddled by Suplico was uncovered.”

 

Mejorada said Suplico and his allies could have granted the appropriation for the honorarium when the Sanggunian approved Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-06 containing the 2008 annual budget.

 

Suplico clarified the issue with The Daily Guardian to dispel insinuations that he lied on the real reason why the approval of the supplemental budget was stalled.

 

The vice governor said while it is true that Imperial showed him the list last week, he returned the same for various reasons.

 

“There is only one list and I don’t want to lose it. The keeper of that list by law is the Provincial Health Office (PHO) which has jurisdiction over the barangay health workers. The PHO has to clean the list of those who died, those who left the country, those who ceased to be BHWs and those who are BHWs while at the same time are barangay service point officers, day care workers and barangay nutrition scholars,” he said.

 

Suplico said the PHO has to encode the list in a form that may be attached to the appropriation ordinance.

 

“As of noontime Wednesday, the PHO was still busy cleaning up the lost together with the officers of the BHW provincial federation. The allegation that I lied about the real reason for the delay in the approval of the financial aid is a malicious insinuation. It is a lie,” Suplico said.

 

The SP will again discuss the financial aid during its special session Friday.

 

Suplico said they will attach conditions to the appropriations ordinance especially the manner by which the aid will be released.

 

“We want the aid to be released in the towns, not here at the Capitol to avoid politicking and additional expenses on the part of the workers. Although we expect the governor to repeat what he did last year by vetoing the conditions then release the funds before we could override the veto,” Suplico said.

 

Mejorada said the volunteer workers prefer to get their financial aid at the Capitol “so they can go shopping after getting their allowance.”

 

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