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Suplico sues Tupas over 2009 budget

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex Suplico on Tuesday filed an administrative complaint against his uncle, Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for abuse and misconduct.

 

Suplico accused Tupas before the Office of the President in Malacañang for abuse of authority, grave misconduct in office, culpable violation of the Constitution, dereliction of duty and other offenses under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

 

The plaint stemmed from Tupas’ issuance last January 5, 2009 of Executive Order No. 1-2009 which reenacted the 2008 annual and supplemental budgets, including the 20% development fund.

 

The governor issued EO 1-2009 despite the passage of Appropriations Ordinance 2008-05 which pertains to the 2009 annual budget and investment program.

 

Tupas vetoed the entire AO 2008-05 but the SP voted to override it December 19, 2008.  

 

Suplico said Tupas committed abuse of authority and grave misconduct in office “by violating the law granting the Sangguniang Panlalawigan the powers to enact the appropriation ordinance and the ordinance approving the annual budget.”

 

The vice governor said Tupas set aside AO 2008-05 and replaced it with EO 1-2009 sans a supporting ordinance approved by the SP.

 

Tupas also “committed abuse of authority, culpable violation of the Constitution and grave misconduct in office when he usurped the functions of the court when he set aside AO 2008-05 by declaring it ultra vires, prejudicial to the welfare project, unconstitutional, illegal and a void ordinance in his EO 1-2009,” Suplico said.

 

In preventing the implementation of AO 2008-05, Tupas allegedly violated the RPC by usurping the powers of the provincial board to approve annual budgets aside from violating the doctrine of operative fact imbued in the provisions of the Local Government Code.

 

Tupas’ order is also illegal because it reenacted the 2008 budget sans any order from the competent court or the Department of Budget and Management, Suplico said.

 

The governor also allegedly abused his power and committed malversation by appropriating and disbursing the 20% Internal Revenue Allotment-Development Fund (IRA-DF).

 

Suplico threatened to sue Tupas for plunder after the governor reenacted the 2007 IRA-DF last year.

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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.”

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

REGULAR capitol workers have reason to smile after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved Tuesday the resubmitted 2008 budget which includes their 10 percent salary increase from June to December 2008.

 

But barangay volunteer workers will have to wait if the SP will approve a supplemental budget from the Office of the Governor allocating funds for the volunteers’ financial assistance amounting to P23 million.

 

The approved 2008 budget is embodied in Appropriations Ordinance No. 2008-06.

 

Of the P1.136-billion resubmitted budget for this year, the SP only approved P275 million to cover the provincial government’s expenses for the whole month of December and the 10% salary hike.

 

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said they limited the approved budget to December 2008 expenditures only since the year is already ending.

 

Suplico said they deleted the financial assistance to more than 10,000 Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO), Barangay Health Workers (BHW) and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) because Governor Niel Tupas Sr. did not make a specific request for the said allocation.

 

But in the resubmitted budget, the financial assistance for barangay volunteer workers was lumped in the maintenance operating and other expenses of the governor’s office.

 

Suplico said his uncle-governor can submit a supplemental budget for the allowance of volunteer workers as they still have several days left to hold sessions.

 

Two Suplico allies – Board Members Macario Napulan (1st district) and Mariano Malones (3rd district) – voted for the approval of the financial assistance for the volunteers. Joining them are BMs Rodolfo Cabado, June Mondejar and Shalene Hidalgo.

 

Those who voted against the allowance were BMs Richard Garin, Arthur Defensor Jr., George Demaisip, JR Salcedo, Jett Rojas, Jeneda Salcedo and Karl Giuseppe Gumban.

 

NOT GIVING UP

 

Tupas yesterday approved AO No. 2008-06 to pave the way for the release of the long-delayed 10-percent salary adjustment of provincial officials and employees.

 

But Tupas is not about to give up on the P2,000 yearly honorarium for some 12,000 barangay-based volunteers that he described as the “frontline soldiers” in the province’s health, population and early child education programs.

 

Tupas said he will submit today a request for a P23-million supplemental budget to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to fund the “token of appreciation” for these volunteers and help them cope with the hardships caused by the global economic crisis.

 

“The province wants to show its appreciation for the hard work and dedication shown by these volunteers who make do with minuscule allowances given by their barangays and municipal governments to serve as frontline soldiers for our programs,” Tupas said.

 

In approving the appropriations ordinance, Tupas said he ignored the technical deficiencies in the ordinance that would have been valid grounds for a veto just so the much-awaited salary adjustment can be released in time for Christmas.

 

For instance, the “annual budget” enacted by the Sanggunian appropriated only P275 million to cover expenditures of the province from Dec. 1 to 31, 2008 and neglected to incorporate the actual expenditures of the province while operating on a re-enacted budget, he said.

 

“I will take the risk of implementing this despite the glaring deficiency to avoid any further delays in the release of the salary adjustment,” he said.

 

Tupas expressed misgivings that the Sanggunian slashed the amount of P23 million that he had included in the 2008 Executive Budget for the honorarium of the volunteers.

 

“These volunteer workers are victims of politics,” Tupas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

GOVERNOR Niel Tupas Sr. has vetoed the 2009 annual budget approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last month.

 

In his veto letter to the SP dated December 2, Tupas said he will “return Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-05 embodying the 2009 Annual Appropriation for the Province of Iloilo and Approving the Annual Investment Plan with a veto on the entire legislative measure.”

 

The governor said the provincial board approved the annual budget in haste which resulted in “confusion and chaos.”

 

“It is often said that haste makes waste. Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-05 is a perfect example. The ordinance was enacted, and submitted to this Office, with a swiftness that is enviable for a piece of legislation. It was submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 15, 2008. A little over a month later, on November 18, 2008, the appropriation ordinance was enacted. The following morning, it was already submitted to my Office,” Tupas said.

 

Tupas claimed the appropriation measure is defective for it failed to meet the requirements set by the Updated Budget Operations Manual (UBOM) for Local Government Units.

 

“The blunders committed are very fundamental. The Ordinance summarizes only lump sum amounts for each department/office, and does not specify how much is intended for personal services, maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlay,” Tupas said.

 

The governor said AO 2008-05 violated Item 6.2.2 of the UBOM for LGUs which provides that an appropriation ordinance “shall contain a provision summarizing the sources of revenues, other receipts and borrowings, if any, to finance the budget, and the magnitude of expenditures authorized by the Sanggunian, preferably by office/department, broken down by allotment class and categorized as either economic, social or general services.”

 

Implementing the annual budget, Tupas said, would be technically difficult, and legally infeasible.

 

“Aside from the rudimentary blunders aforementioned, the format is chaotic and confusing. Even the figures as presented are wrong. For instance, the estimated revenue from Professional Taxes is pegged at P365,000,000. The error is committed twice in the document. When you add up the numbers for revenue, you get a different sum,” he added.

 

The governor requested the committee on appropriations chaired by his nephew Vice Governor Rolex Suplico to re-examine the budget and make the necessary corrections before it is submitted back to his office for approval.

 

“Let me caution each and every member that an override of the veto will not rectify the blunders made,” Tupas said.

 

Suplico said he needs to read the veto letter to find out the specific defects pointed out by the governor.

 

“My office has not received any veto letter from the Office of the Governor. In short, media has the veto letter but not my office or the SP. This is the same thing that happened with respect to the DBM letter reviewing the 10% salary increase – media had a copy ahead of my office and the SP. We got our copy of the DBM letter from media,” Suplico said.

 

Suplico said the governor should prove why the 2009 budget is prejudicial to public interest and goes beyond the bounds of law.

 

The provincial board will tackle the veto letter when it convenes Friday. Aside from the veto, the board will also discuss possible measures to implement the 10% salary increase for capitol workers after the previous appropriations ordinance was declared inoperative by the Department of Budget and Management.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo Sangguniang Panlalawigan will study available options for the implementation of the 10% salary increase for provincial government workers.

 

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said he asked the SP Secretariat and his office staff to study the next move they will make after the Department of Budge and Management (DBM) declared as inoperative Appropriations Ordinance 2008-02.

 

AO 2008-02 authorizes Governor Niel Tupas to release some P37 million for the 10% salary increase and other benefits of regular capitol employees.

 

Suplico said he also asked provincial board members last night to move the December 2 session to December 5.

 

“This will allow the executive time to either prepare a new proposed 2008 budget or to study the newly-approved 2009 budget until the last day, December 4,” Suplico said.

 

The vice governor said he only got a copy of the DBM letter from the media.

 

DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya based his decision on the fact that the Iloilo provincial government is operating on the 2007 reenacted budget. This after the DBM also declared as inoperative AOs 2008-01-a, which pertains to the 2008 annual budget, and 2008-01-b involving the Internal Revenue Allocation development fund.

 

Andaya said AO 2008-02 provides supplemental appropriations “which is not allowed in the absence of the Fiscal Year 2008 annual budget of the province.”

 

Andaya said there are two options left for the province: include the 10% salary increase in the new 2008 annual budget of the province that is in conformity with this Department’s review findings under letters dated June 18, 2008 and June 30, 2008; or through a supplemental budget after the enactment of the aforementioned annual budget.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MORE than P100 million, mostly discretionary funding, was slashed from the P1.18-billion proposed budget for 2009.

 

Despite a plaster cast in his left leg due to a ping-pong injury, Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, committee on appropriations chair, outlined the approved budget for next year during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s session Monday.

 

In sum, the SP reduced the P1.18 billion proposed budget by P101,252,664, leaving a total of P883,791,095 for the 2009 budget.

 

Of the P101.2 million slashed budget, some P55 million was set aside for the hazard pay of provincial health workers.

 

The fund, however, can only be used based on the outcome of the cases filed by health workers against the provincial government with two Regional Trial Courts.

 

The remaining P45.7 million inappropriate balance was reverted to the general fund.

 

The Provincial Engineers Office (PEO) suffered one of the biggest cut with its proposed allocation of P102 million slashed to 61,574,115, or a decrease of P40,444,575.

 

A bulk of the reduction in the PEO budget was the allocation for gasoline, oil and lubricants from P20 million to P5 million.

 

The Office of the Governor (OG) saw its proposed budget of P47,386,635 reduced to P13,885,577, for a whopping decrease of P33,501,058.

 

Among the reductions in the OG budget was for gasoline, oil and lubricants from P2.05 million to P650,000; travelling expenses from P1.5 million to P500,000; office supplies expenses from P1.07 million to P500,000; and advertising expense from P900,000 to P250,000.

 

Donations worth P3 million and the P2-million capital outlay under the governor’s office were also deleted from the proposed budget.

 

A bulk of the budget reduction will also affect some 250 job hires under various capitol departments except for provincial hospitals.

 

The SP decided to defer approval of the final budget next week to give other board members time to go over Suplico’s committee report.

 

When approved, the budget will be submitted to Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for his signature although sources said the governor is inclined to line veto some of the items in the 2009 appropriations.

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