Death of reason

REASON dies every time Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. opens his mouth in order to push the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to blindly approve the 2019 budget.

Let us count the ways.

First, he claimed that contractual and job hires deployed to provincial and district hospitals will lose their jobs for lack of a new annual budget. What he kept silent on the fact that he can actually certify as essential and necessary expenses the hiring of hospital workers.

Ergo, he has the power to re-hire these workers, with or without a new budget. And he did exercise that power when he re-hired the job hires and contractual workers through an executive order.

Second, Defensor Sr. claimed that provincial and district hospitals will lose their accreditations from the Department of Health if the 2019 budget hangs. Alas, what the governor refused to tell Ilonggos is that our hospitals were already accredited before the year 2018 ended. Why the disinformation sir?

Third, he claimed that the conversion of the Mother and Child Hospital in San Joaquin, Iloilo into a district hospital would be aborted sans the 2019 budget. But what the governor did not bother to tell Ilonggos is that Rep. Richard Garin has been pushing for the conversion when he was still provincial board member. Also, the governor either forgot (old age kicking in?) or refused to tell Ilonggos that hospital conversion and the subsequent budget allocation for its operations require an ordinance. For a seasoned lawyer like the governor, his forgetfulness (or is it?) is fascinating.

If this is a game of baseball, Defensor Sr. is already out of the game. But he refuses to surrender despite striking thrice with truth and reason.

Defensor’s charade continued when he claimed that the provincial board would deprive Ilonggos of projects funded by the 20 percent development fund (DF) if the 2019 budget remains in limbo.

Sadly, the governor has long deprived Ilonggos of essential projects because of the low utilization rate of previous 20 percent DFs (less than 50 percent), as pointed out by the Commission on Audit in its 2017 annual audit report on the capitol.

In fact, Defensor Sr. went on hyper-drive in dispensing political largesse only recently because his son and namesake is running for governor in May 2019. Look who’s talking now.

The governor’s latest gimmick was when he used the Ilonggo youth to advance his personal motives on the 2019 budget. He again bullied the provincial board into approving the budget so that he can seek authority to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Education on the funding of Iloilo athletes who will join the Western Visayas Athletic Association Meet in Roxas City, Capiz.

We were about to believe the governor if not for the 2017 Commission on Audit report admonishing the Defensor administration to stop the fund transfer scheme and instead formulate a financial plan for annual sports activities. The audit report pointed out that millions of pesos in fund were not readily liquidated and accounted for, aside from the fact that some expenses were deemed questionable, as these were not included in the spending menu for the Special Education Fund.

In fairness to the governor, he gave in to the COA recommendations but not before slashing the WVRAA funding citing lack of time. There is no one to blame, Mr. Governor, but yourself because you turned blind and deaf to wise counsel.

Defensor Sr. can and will always drop the emotional card if only to lay his hands on capitol funds and perpetuate his kind in power. And he will not even mind if good sense dies because power is his only reason for being.