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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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Don’t hold us hostage
in political war: PACE
BY CARLA GOMEZ

The Capitol employees are calling on the Negros Occidental Sanggunian to spare them from becoming “collateral damage” in a political war, and to instead grant them their P20,000 incentive bonuses and the fourth tranche of their wage increases, Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees spokesman, Rene Lastierre, said yesterday.

Lastierre said the PACE officials met yesterday and are issuing an official statement today appealing to members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to grant their request.

The members of the SP allied with Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., who is running against Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. in the May polls, have refused to approve the 2013 budget, saying the governor should provide a more itemized listing of its contents in the spirit of public accountability.

The 2013 budget is expected to be tackled in the SP session tomorrow, but pending its approval, the provincial government will have to operate on the 2012 reenacted budget that does not contain the allocation for the bonuses and wage hikes.

Lastierre said if the SP does not heed their requests, especially for their wage increase that is required by law, they will consult their lawyer for action that they may take.

The 2,335 provincial government employees are being held hostage to a political crisis that they have no part in, as they will serve under whoever is elected in the May polls, he said.

“We are just asking for what is due us”, he said.

Asked if they would use political pressure on the Capitol officials to press for their wage hike and bonuses, Lastierre said “they know that the more than 2,300 Capitol employees have family members and friends that can be times 10 or 20, but we will be thankful if they simply just recognize our hard work.”

The employees deserve the P20,000 incentive bonus because they also contributed to the provincial government’s receiving numerous awards last year, while their pay hike is required by law, Lastierre stressed.

Marañon said he has sought the opinion of the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Interior and Local Government on the course of action he can take in the light of the SP action, which he insisted is hurting Negrenses, particularly the health services to the poor.

The expansion of the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City by another 100 beds is also affected by the SP action, he said.

The governor said the budget he submitted to the SP is similar to the ones the SP had approved in previous years, but politics has gotten in the way of their actions.

He called on the SP members opposing the budget to reconsider their positions for the sake of their constituents.

If our governance is bad, why then were we recognized by the DILG as the best performing provincial government in Region 6 for several years now, he said.

“They should not be worried that if they approve the budget, I will use it to my political advantage; the funds are used for the regular operations of the provincial government, the biggest bulk of which goes to salaries,” the governor said.

The gasoline expenses of the board members are very big and some of them have not liquidated their cash advances, he added.

The governor also said he has already submitted an itemized listing of the programs to be implemented under the 20 percent development fund. But as St. Paul said: “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible,” Marañon quoted.

Alvarez has said they want itemized lists of where the provincial budget will be spent to protect the interest of the Negrenses.*CPG

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