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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, September 5, 2013
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Marañon commends
La Castellana execs

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday commended La Castellana officials headed by Mayor Alberto Nicor and Vice Mayor Felix Feria for arriving at a compromise agreement to end the nagging budget impasse that has affected hundreds of municipal scholars following the non-passage of the town's 20 Percent Development Fund, a press release from the Capitol said.

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday said he was also glad both parties reached an agreement.

Marañon said that he is happy that both camps were able to present their side of the issue at a Sangguniang Panlalawigan hearing initiated by SP Member Alain Gatuslao, chair of the Committee on Laws and Ordinances on Tuesday, the press release said.

"Dialog is very important. With the intervention of SP Member Gatuslao, both Mayor Nicor and Vice Mayor Feria were provided the opportunity to thresh out their opposing appreciation of legal opinions," Marañon also said.

Marañon also lauded Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and SP Members Rolando Ponsica, Raul Rivera, Patrick Lacson and Victor Javellana for attending the hearing and helping find solution to the problem.

Nicor and Feria had been loggerheads over the former pushing for the passage of the 20 Percent PDF pegged at P19.7 million, of which P4 million is allotted to the municipal scholarship program.

Feria earlier argued that scholarships are supposed to be contained in the General Fund, not in the 20 Percent PDF as per guidelines from the Department of Budget Management.

But Nicor pointed out that inclusion of the scholarship fund in the 20 Percent PDF has been their practice since 2008.

After the SP intervention, that lasted for more than two hours, the camps of both Nicor and Feria agreed to "sacrifice the budget for the second tranche salary increases of municipal employees to pay for the tuition fees of town scholars".

The win-win formula, however, will be firmed up when Nicor, Feria and the Sangguniang Bayan members meet Thursday or Friday to go through the details of the solution, SB Member Cristina Chuanico-Vera explained yesterday, the press release said.*

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