The officers of the Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees yesterday declared a period of mourning that they said will last until the Negros Occidental provincial government workers receive their salary increases mandated by law and their P20,000 extra bonus.
PACE president Ruben Diamante yesterday said they are calling on Capitol employees to wear anything black, such as armbands, pins or T-shirts, to manifest their grief as the Sangguniang Panlalawigan meets for its regular session this afternoon.
The majority in the SP associated with Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr. late last year had denied passage of the 2013 budget, saying specific allocations need to be stated and reviewed to protect the interest of the Negrenses.
They sent the budget back to the SP Committee on Finance for further review, preventing the Sanggunian from deliberating on other matters since the start of 2013 in compliance with Section 323 of the Local Government Code.
Section 323 states that “if the Sanggunian concerned fails to pass the annual appropriations at the start of the year, no other matters can be discussed by the SP, aside from the budget, for 90 days”.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., on the other hand, has claimed the delay in the passage of the budget is politically motivated.
Board Member Salvador Escalante, chairman of the SP Committee on Finance, said it may take two to three weeks more before his committee can submit a report on the budget review to the SP for approval.
He said out of 25 provincial government departments and offices, the Committee still has to review the budget of five more.
The PACE officers, in their declaration of mourning, yesterday said the provincial government employees have repeatedly appealed to the SP, headed by the vice governor, for the approval of the 2013 budget for which their salary increases and bonuses depend, but all their efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
“Despite our clear message to spare us from being a collateral damage to their political intramurals, our voices remain unheard,” they said.
They said amid threats of being subjected to reprisal, they are only invoking their rights.
The vice governor said nobody can stop the provincial government employees from declaring a period of mourning if they wish to do so.
Alvarez said he is one with the Capitol employees in their period of mourning and sadness, pointing out that he, the SP members, and the governor are also among those who have been unable to get their salary increases.
However, he pointed out he is just the SP presiding officer, it is the members of the Sanggunian who vote on the approval or denial of the budget.
The governor said he grieves with the employees who are the most affected by the non passage of the 2013 budget because they have been unable to get their needed salary increases and bonuses.
Capitol employees who are retiring will also be getting less because of the non implementation of their salary increases, Marañon said.
And numerous services to the people of Negros Occidental have been affected by the non approval of the 2013 budget, he added.*CPG