After failing to hold two successive regular sessions on Dec. 26 last year and Jan. 2 this year, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental managed to have a quorum yesterday, and mainly discussed the disapproved 2013 budget.
Board Member Miller Serondo, who was among the five board members that had pushed for the approval of the P2.02 billion budget of the provincial government for this year, citing Section 323 of the Local Government Code, informed his colleagues that no other business may be taken up during sessions, in case the Sangguniang concerned fails to pass the ordinance authorizing the annual appropriations at the beginning of the ensuing fiscal year.
At the same time, Serondo added that SP members will continue to hold sessions, without additional remuneration for its members, until such ordinance is approved, as stipulated also in the LGC.
The disapproved 2013 budget contains the fourth tranche salary increases of 2,335 Capitol employees among others, while a supplemental budget would be needed for the P20,000 bonuses.
The SP regular session, which was presided over by Vice Gov. Genaro Alvarez Jr., yesterday ended, with an agreement among board members to refer the matter raised by Serondo to the Department of Interior and Local Government, for clarification, Board Member Emilio Yulo III, vice-chairman of the SP committee on Finance and Appropriations, said.
The Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees aired an appeal to the SP members to act on their salary increases and incentive bonus, but if nothing is done, they said they will carry out their “plan of action” in the succeeding days to press for what is due them.
Section 323 of LGC also states that “ if the Sanggunian fails to enact such ordinance after 90 days from the beginning of the fiscal year, the ordinance authorizing appropriations of the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force .. with only the annual appropriations for salaries and wages of existing positions, statutory and contractual obligations, and essential operating expenses authorized in the annual and supplemental budgets for the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted and disbursement of funds shall be in accordance therewith”
Renelo Lastierre, spokesman of the Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees, yesterday said that they will meet today with their counsel, to discuss the outcome of the SP regular session, and consult with their members.
In a statement, PACE said their salary increases and P20,000 incentive bonus were being held hostage in a political war.
In an interview with the media after the regular SP session, however, Alvarez advised Capitol employees not to be carried away and be emotional about the propaganda of other people.
He said they want itemized lists on how the provincial budget will be spent to protect the interest of Negrenses, apparently referring the 20 percent Development Fund of P198 million.
Only Board Members Raul Rivera and Thea Mae Dino were absent yesterday during the second regular SP session for this year.* GPB