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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will tackle the request of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. to declare a state of “imminent public health hazard” in the province because of the A(H1N1) flu pandemic.

Citing the governor’s letter, Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico said the declaration will empower the executive department to release P1.3 million for the purchase of protective medical gears.

The money will be taken from the 5% calamity fund of the 2009 budget.

Tupas cited in his letter request DBM-DILG Circular No. 2003-02 which allows the release of the calamity fund in preparation for disasters provided a state of imminent danger is first declared.

Suplico said the gears will be used by health workers in the province in responding to suspected A(H1N1) cases.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the executive will buy includes particulate respirator (N95), eye protection, gown and sterile gloves.

“It is apparent that the pandemic is not slowing down and there is a need to adopt measures to enhance the preparedness of our health professionals to handle the ‘swine flu’ in case it continues to spread in Iloilo,” Tupas said in his letter to the SP.

Suplico said he has reservations with Tupas’ request because Iloilo might be the first province to declare a state of imminent danger.

“There are only 22 confirmed cases in Iloilo with no fatality. Quezon City did not declare a state of imminent danger after an employee of the House of Representatives died of A(H1N1) flu,” Suplico said.

The governor said the equipment can be used for other epidemics that might recur such as SARS and Avian Flu.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex Suplico assailed the latest edict of his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr. authorizing the release of the P38.8-million Community Direct Action Program (CDAP) contained in the 2009 annual investment program (AIP).

 

Suplico said Executive Order No. 67 issued April 7, 2009 is questionable because it did not follow the conditions set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

 

The vice governor was referring to the results of the DBM review on the 2009 annual budget dated March 20, 2009.

 

One of the conditions set by the DBM is the itemization or breakdown of allocations in the 2009 AIP.

 

But in EO 67, Suplico said they noticed that objects of expenditures such as construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects were lumped together.

 

The vice governor said the governor should show which municipality will receive a certain amount of money to fund their projects.

 

The CDAP is considered one of the “pork barrels” of the Office of Governor which aims to help municipalities through various socio-economic related infrastructures.

 

In the project resumé attached to EO 67, CDAP funds are in the form of fund transfer or donation to the component local government unit to finance small infrastructure projects.

 

Suplico fears the release of the CDAP will be abused sans the itemized appropriation.

 

The vice governor said they are mulling to file more charges against the governor for violating the DBM conditions.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved the P1.18-billion annual budget of the Iloilo provincial government for 2009 except for three provisions.

 

In a March 20, 2009 letter to Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, DBM regional director Nilo Buot said Appropriations Ordinance 2008-05 enacted November 18, 2008 showed “substantial compliance” with the Local Government Code and other relevant laws.

 

The DBM reviewed the 2009 budget after it was submitted by the provincial government last December 23, 2008.

 

In sum, the DBM review upheld the decision of the opposition-dominated SP to slash discretionary funds and fuel allowances under the Office of the Governor and other departments.

 

But the DBM disallowed three provisions in the 2009 budget.

 

First, the agency did not allow the insertion of the new item of appropriation which set aside P55 million for the hazard pay of health workers.

 

The DBM also did not allow the increase in the lump sum for casuals amounting to P1.17million and the P848,409 appropriation for the creation of non-mandatory positions as these will exceed the 45% personnel services cap of the budget.

 

The review also said that Section 2 of AO 2008-05, which requires the promulgation of an enabling resolution in the hiring of casuals and job hires, “runs counter” to Sections 77 and 465 of the Local Government Code.

 

Buot said there is no need for an enabling resolution from the SP before the governor can hire casuals and job hires.

 

The DBM also set other conditions as regards the operative portions of the budget.

 

As regards Section 3 of the ordinance which mandates that aid to barangays shall be remitted to the city/municipalities in the province for distribution, it should “recognize the authority of the local chief executive” to execute the budget.

 

Provincial legal officer Salvador Cabaluna III and provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada said they were vindicated by the DBM review after the agency stressed a Civil Service Commission memorandum saying that “duly appointed public officials and employees are entitled to salary upon valid appointment and assumption top duty.”

 

The provincial board did not include the names of Mejorada and Cabaluna in the plantilla as Vice Governor Rolex Suplico continues to question the validity of their appointments.

 

As regards the slashed budget items, Tupas said they will submit supplemental budgets to the SP to make up for their deficiency.

 

The DBM approval, however, would mean that 185 casual workers under the Office of the Governor will be unemployed starting today.

 

The budget for the casuals was among the items the SP deleted from the executive budget.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

“CASES filed against me are invigorating.”

 

This was the reaction of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. to the administrative complaint filed by his nephew, Vice Governor Rolex Suplico with the Office of the President.

 

Suplico sued his uncle before the Office of the President for abuse of authority, grave misconduct, culpable violation of the Constitution, dereliction of duty and other charges for reenacting the 2008 annual and supplemental budget despite the passage of the 2009 budget.

 

“I welcome the case. We all know what his motives are. He wants to stir my administration. Anyway, I get stronger when there are controversies. It is his right to file cases but I know that my actions are right,” Tupas said.

 

Tupas said the 2009 budget is illegal and inimical to public welfare after the SP slashed appropriations necessary for capitol operations.

 

He also questioned the P55-million fund for the hazard pay of public health workers which was not reflected in the governor’s proposed executive budget.

 

Tupas reenacted the 2008 budget and the 20% Internal Revenue Allotment development fund via Executive Order 1-2009.

 

Thus Suplico accused the governor of usurping the powers of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to enact annual and supplementary budgets.

 

The vice governor said Tupas became the “dictator of Iloilo” by ignoring the 2009 budget embodied in Appropriations Ordinance No. 2008-5 and imposing the EO sans a valid court order or directive from the Department of Budget and Management.

 

Suplico lodged his case Tuesday with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional office which in turn will send it to the office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

 

Ermita will first determine if there is probable cause to investigate the case before assigning it to appropriate agencies like the DILG or the Office of the Ombudsman.

 

HEALTH CONDITION

 

In a separate interview with Bombo Radyo-Iloilo, Tupas belied reports that his health is declining reason why he frequents his doctor.

 

The governor said his meetings with his physician are part of his regular executive checkup.

 

“At the age of 76, I can still play (lawn) tennis for two hours. The checkups are part of my routine to protect my health which I believe is the greatest wealth we can have,” he added.

 

Tupas said he is also preparing for the 2010 elections. The governor is reportedly running against 4th district Rep. Ferjenel Biron next year.

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.

Bribe yarn shakes Iloilo capitol

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan will investigate the alleged bribe offer to three Iloilo provincial board members to get their support for the revival of the dream P350-million Iloilo convention center project of Governor Niel Tupas Sr.

 

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the SP will look into reports that board members Jett Rojas, Mariano Malones and June Mondejar were each offered P300,000 by a certain Cedric Lee during a dinner meeting at the Promenade Restaurant in Atrium Mall last January 27.

 

If they accept the offer, Lee was willing to give each board member P50,000 down payment upfront.

 

Rojas confirmed the Promenade meeting and the alleged bribe attempt in an interview with RMN-Iloilo.

 

Rojas said Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada was also present in the dinner meeting.

 

The proposed convention center which will be erected at the old Iloilo Rehabilitation Center site is a pet project of Governor Tupas.

 

In 2007, the 8th Sangguniang Panlalawigan then dominated by Tupas supporters passed a resolution authorizing the governor to borrow money from the Philippine Veterans Bank to fund the project.

 

But the present opposition-laden SP withdrew the resolution after board member Arthur Defensor Jr., committee on ways and means chair, found the project to be unfeasible and disadvantageous to the province.

 

The Promenade meeting happened seven days after Tupas delivered his State of the Province Address (Sopa) where he resurrected the convention center and information technology park projects.

 

The two projects, Tupas said, are part of the measures that will stave off the effects of the global financial crisis which is retrenching thousands of workers in the Philippines.

 

But who is Cedric Lee?

 

Lee, a businessman, is said to be the boyfriend of actress-singer Vina Morales.

 

Lee’s ex wife, Judy Lee is the business partner of Jessica Rodriguez and David Bunevacz.

 

Bunevacz is the erstwhile chair of Strategic and Comprehensive Consultants, Inc. which conducted the feasibility study on the convention center project.

 

The provincial government hired Bunevacz as financial advisor and designer of the convention center.

 

Bunevacz was later accused of embezzling P20 million from Beverly Hills 6750, a high-end aesthetic center, where he was the former chief executive officer.

 

Reports from the capitol said Cedric Lee is bent on reviving the P350-million convention center project after then board member Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. allegedly got a 5% advance payment, an estimated P17.5 million.

 

Tupas Jr., who is the incumbent representative of the 5th congressional district, also picked the convention center as his pet project.

 

Rep. Tupas did not reply to text messages asking for his comment on the convention center.

 

Suplico said he also received bribe offers reaching P10 million in order to get his nod for the project. The vice governor said he refused the offers.

 

Gov. Tupas had brushed aside that bribe money was offered to the board members for the revival of the project.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has disallowed the transaction on the P1.1-million autoclave sterilizer purchased by the Iloilo provincial government for the Passi City district hospital.  

 

In a notice of disallowance issued November 11, 2008, state auditor 4 Haydee P. Pasuelo said they found discrepancies in the deal.

 

“Ocular inspection conducted by the COA-Technical Services Office on August 21, 2008 disclosed that the unit is not in accordance with the duly approved Purchase Order, has no nameplate indicating the name of the manufacturer, origin of the unit, brand name/model and power consumption, and brochure submitted does not indicate the product patent number. It was also found out to be defective; thus the actual test was not performed at the time of the inspection,” the notice said.

 

Pacific Trade House won the contract for the autoclave sterilizer which conked out when personnel of the Don Valerio Palmares Sr. Memorial District Hospital operated the machine.

 

The audit body also found “existence of fraud” in the procurement process based on the disbursement voucher and other supporting papers.

 

“The bidding participated in by Pacific Trade House and CDC Pharmacy showed that there was collusion between the two bidders. The disbursement voucher revealed that the person who received the check for payment in favor of Pacific Trade House was the authorized representative of CDC Pharmacy in the name of Ma. Cherry D. Alaban. It was also noted that the delivery receipt, signed by the Nurse-in-Charge supposedly issued by Pacific Trade House, bears the Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) of a Dione Trading. Further investigation revealed that this Dione Trading (which delivered the autoclave sterilizer) and CDC Pharmacy are owned by only one person,” COA said.

 

COA said the discrepancies violated procurement and accounting rules.

 

Who are liable for the controversial transaction?

 

COA said the persons legally responsible for the deal are general services office chief and bids and awards committee (BAC) chair Ramie Salcedo, budget officer and BAC vice chair Elena Lim, provincial engineer Gracianito Lucero, former provincial treasurer Melba Sullivan, provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, and executive assistant Levy Buenavista.       

 

Also held liable were Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for approving the transaction and Mercedes Sibug as supplier.

 

In his privilege speech delivered during the provincial board’s regular session Tuesday, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the persons tagged by COA to the questioned deal are “the ‘usual suspects’ in zarzuelas with these particular plots involving scams and scandals.”

 

“These ‘usual suspects’ may have already attained the status of ‘stars’ or even ‘superstars’ in their own right,” Suplico added.

 

Suplico urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “to condemn the sterilizer scam in the strongest possible terms; to refer the matter to the appropriate committee for investigation; and to do any act necessary to stop graft and corruption in the Iloilo provincial government.”       

Suplico asks Ombudsman to probe Tupas, GSO head

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex continued his counteroffensive against his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr. by calling for a lifestyle check on the latter and other provincial officials in the light of the spate of alleged anomalies at the Capitol.

 

In a privilege speech delivered during the first regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for 2009, Suplico asked the provincial board to pass two resolutions urging the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct lifestyle checks on Tupas and his family and members of the provincial Bids and Awards Committee, especially General Services Office head Ramie Salcedo.

 

Suplico questioned how the Tupas family won several elections even if they don’t have viable sources of livelihood.

 

Suplico also questioned the mansion owned by Tupas at Brgy. Hechanova, Jaro reportedly worth more than P20 million.

 

“He has built a mansion in Jaro on a salary of around P29,000 per month. Yet, the truth is that he has no visible means of livelihood, one that is commensurate to their lifestyle. Where did he get the money for such a lavish lifestyle?” Suplico said.

 

The vice governor claimed that graft and corruption at the capitol “has increased by leaps and bounds and in greater amounts as the Tupas administration nears its end in 2010.”

 

He cited alleged anomalous transactions at the capitol including the P1.3-million autoclave sterilizer in Passi City, anesthesia machine scandal in Calinog and the purchase of landscaping plants for the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center in Pototan, Iloilo.

 

“These scams cannot be perpetrated without the connivance of certain officers and employees of the Capitol, such as but not limited to the General Services Office and its head, Ramie Salcedo,” he added.

 

To further prove that his uncle cannot support himself outside of politics, Suplico narrated how he and Rep. Ferjenel Biron financially supported Tupas from 1998 to 2001.

 

The vice governor said he gave four vehicles to Tupas and funded the latter’s 1998 gubernatorial campaign in the 5th congressional district.

 

Suplico also recalled giving an Omega wristwatch to his uncle governor at a Japanese restaurant in a Mandaluyong City hotel.

 

“After his defeat (in 1998), I gave him support equal to twice my salary as congressman – P70,000 per month. I practically carried the entire family on my back. I still have the 32 returned checks representing three years, from 1998 to 2001, at P70,000 per check. These checks were payable to Atty. Niel D. Tupas,” he added.

 

During the 2001 elections, Suplico claimed shelling out P40 million of personal funds for the gubernatorial campaign of Tupas.

 

Biron, upon Suplico’s request, contributed P6 million to Tupas’ campaign kitty.

 

“My friends, I never told Gov. Tupas to keep the change. And until now, I am still waiting for the change. Basi bala my sensilyo pa ako!” he said.

 

POLITICAL SURVIVAL

 

Suplico said the recent order of Tupas to use the reenacted 2008 budget this year is only meant for the political survival of his family.

 

The vice governor claimed that seven members of the Tupas family are rumored to run for various positions in the city and province of Iloilo come 2010.

 

“My question is: Where will they get the money? I am afraid that we have to do everything to protect the provincial public funds. I fear that the money in the coffers of the provincial government will be used once again, not for the general welfare of the Ilonggos, but for the political survival of Gov. Tupas and his family in 2010,” Suplico said.

 

Aside from the lifestyle check on Tupas, Salcedo and other Capitol officials, also asked the SP to pass a resolution condemning Executive Order 01-2009 which ordered Capitol departments to operate under the 2008 reenacted budget.

 

Suplico said he is also studying other executive orders of Tupas for possible filing of criminal raps against the latter.

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

 

ILOILO provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada yesterday scoffed at what he described as a “desperate effort” of Suplico to gain sympathy and support in the face of a humiliating defeat over the province’s 2009 annual budget.

 

“He fails to understand that the basic flaw lies in him, and not in the veto exercised by Governor Niel Tupas over Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-05,” Mejorada said.

 

Suplico yesterday sent a text message requesting Tupas to withdraw his veto on the P55-million hazard pay for public health workers.

 

Suplico said the governor should be concerned with the welfare of health workers who have been expecting what is due them.

 

The issue is the legality of the insertion of P55 million that Suplico “set aside or reserved” for the hazard pay of provincial health workers in the event the courts rule in their favor in civil cases filed against the Province, Mejorada said.

 

“Clearly, this issue is pending before the civil court, and it does not meet the definition of a statutory obligation as contemplated in the Local Government Code,” he said.

 

Mejorada said Suplico is trying to stir up emotions of health workers in a “desperate effort” to avoid blame for yet another legal debacle over the annual budget of the province.

 

He described Suplico’s move as “clutching at straws to prevent crashing down from a humiliating fiasco.”

 

Besides, the proper procedure is an override of the veto, and not for the governor to withdraw his veto, he added.

 

Mejorada said Suplico wants to “camouflage the rudimentary blunder” made as chairman of the Committee on Appropriations in crafting the 2009 annual budget of the province.

 

In his veto message, Tupas thumbed down the appropriation ordinance for not being in accordance with a basic requirement that appropriations must be clearly spell out the figures according to the allotment class.

 

What happened was that the ordinance lumped the entire amounts for each department without classifying the budget for personal services, maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay, he said.

 

“This is very embarrassing,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

SEVERAL members of the Iloilo Sangguniang Panlalawigan have been offered concessions by Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in a bid to realign the majority in the provincial board relative to the ongoing budget wars.

 

A capitol insider who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter said five provincial members met with Tupas the last two days to discuss the 2009 annual budget, which the governor vetoed, and the 10% salary increase for provincial government employees.

 

Among those who met Tupas were board members Jett Rojas, Mariano Malones, Macario Napulan, Richard Garin and Cecilia Colada. The five SP members are aligned with the opposition led by Vice Governor Rolex Suplico.

 

According to the source, the board members were offered 100% salary increase and “pork barrels” next year if they shift their alliance to the Tupas administration.

 

Tupas only has three allies in the provincial board – Rodolfo Cabado, Shalene Hidalgo and June Mondejar.

 

Apparently, Tupas is wooing the board members to avert a possible override of his veto on the approved 2009 annual budget which he called as confusing and filled with errors.

 

The governor is also rallying support to pass the 2008 budget and grant the 10% salary increase for capitol workers before the year ends.

 

Malones in a radio interview said he will decide on the budget issues based on public welfare instead of political affiliation.

 

Malones said he the majority has made “unsound decisions” in the past which affected the delivery of services to their constituents.

 

Suplico said he will find out if there will be major changes in the SP “since this is a numbers game.”

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 marathon hearing on the administrative complaint filed by provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada against Iloilo vice governor Rolex T. Suplico is open to the media.

 

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) legal officer Ferdinand Panes said they will allow the media to cover the hearing November 11-14 at the DILG regional office.

 

Panes said an investigator from the DILG national office will conduct the probe while the regional office will serve as venue and facilitator.

 

Mejorada rapped Suplico for alleged oppression and harassment when the latter instigated the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to delete the allocation for the provincial administrator’s office in the 2008 annual budget. 

 

G. J. Emeterio S. Moreno, Jr., director III of the DILG legal office, informed the parties about the formal investigation which will put to test the disciplining power of the President over local officials under Administrative Order No. 23, series of 1992.

 

Moreno asked the parties to be present during the hearings to present their witnesses and evidences, stressing that no postponement will be allowed.

 

As complainant, Mejorada expressed confidence that the case will prosper despite the long wait. The case was filed last February 7 this year.

 

“It is clear that there is merit in the case,” Mejorada said. “Otherwise, the DILG would have dismissed the case outright.”

 

Mejorada described as “empty bravura” the reaction of Suplico in describing the case as “baseless”.

 

“Even the most hardened of criminals would usually dismiss the cases against them as ‘baseless’,” he said.

 

In his complaint, Mejorada charged Suplico with oppression, misconduct in office and abuse of authority in pushing for the deletion of the budgetary appropriation for his position as provincial administrator in Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-01-a.

 

Mejorada said this action made by Suplico was an apparent act of political vendetta against the most trusted lieutenant of Governor Niel D. Tupas, Sr.

 

“These are acts of oppression, misconduct and abuse of authority,” Mejorada said.

 

The “glaring hostility” displayed by Suplico against him was evident when the vice governor gave media interviews stating that he would make the provincial administrator go through a “needle’s hole” when his appointment goes before the Sanggunian, Mejorada said.

 

He also cited the privilege speech delivered by Suplico on September 4, 2007 in which the latter described him as an “impostor” and a “swindler” for continuing to occupy the position as provincial administrator.

 

In that speech, Suplico had vowed to push for the deletion of Mejorada’s salary appropriation in the 2008 annual budget. Suplico made good on his promise when he pushed for the enactment of Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-01-a, he pointed out.

 

Mejorada said he will submit affidavits executed by no less than Suplico himself in which he admitted pushing for the removal of the budget appropriation for the salary of provincial administrator.

 

The President can suspend Suplico for six months if the complaint is warranted by the facts and evidence, according to legal experts.

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