Negros Occidental Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr. yesterday assured the 2,300 Capitol employees that the 2013 budget will be approved, amid mounting calls for its approval by the Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees.
“One thing I can assure them and the whole of Negros Occidental is that the budget will be approved, we will pay all the financial obligations so that nobody will complain, and even to the point of doubling possibly the (bonus) by December,” Alvarez said.
While he assured them the passage of the budget, Alvarez also charged the PACE for allowing themselves to be used for propaganda.
The Capitol employees are calling on the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental to approve the P2.02 billion budget of the province, which includes the last tranche of their salary increases as mandated by law.
The 2013 budget also needs to be passed for a supplementary budget granting funds for the Capitol employees’ P20,000 extra bonus to be approved.
Alvarez also described the observance of period of mourning by Capitol employees and the recent boodle fight as a “drama”, adding he and even Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., as well as the 15 SP members may even join them, as they are also among those affected by the non passage of the budget.
Board Member Salvador Escalante, chairperson of the SP Committee on Finance and Appropriations, yesterday again deferred for further action the 2013 budget, pending deliberations of the budget of the remaining five Capitol departments and offices.
As expected, the SP regular session yesterday ended briefly, with no other matters discussed, aside from the budget, in compliance with Section 323 of the Local Government Code of 1991.
The 90-day period for the SP to tackle and approve the 2013 budget is expected to end this month. Failure to do so would mean the provincial government of Negros Occidental will have a reenacted budget, based on the LGC.
The SP secretariat yesterday informed SP members the provincial government has almost P98 million savings from the General Fund and Economic Enterprise Development Department, and P24 million School Board surplus last year, based on the report of the Provincial Budget Office.
Board Member Pedro Zayco, chairperson of the SP Committee on Education, said the P20,000 additional bonus, which they are also entitled to receive, can be sourced from the savings of the provincial government.
Zayco, however, said they cannot take it up in the SP regular session, as they are only mandated to tackle the budget alone.
He again clarified they are not opposing the passage of the budget, stressing that some deficiencies on it are still being addressed.
“They (Capitol employees) should not lose hope,” Zayco said.
Alvarez also said he cannot dictate on the board members, as they have their stands on the budget and are looking out for the welfare of majority of Negrenses, stressing he is just a presiding officer.
He reiterated he cannot sacrifice the 2.5 million Negrenses for the Capitol employees. “They should be thankful that they can engage in a boodle fight, while others do not have food to eat,” Alvarez said.
“For the 2,300 Capitol employees, you sacrifice the whole budget of the province? I don’t think that is fair,” he said.*GPB