Duterte steps in pay quarrel blgf told to intervene in  city halls salary standoff

BUREAU of Local Government Finance (BLGF) Acting Regional Director Gilbert Gumabay. (Photo by Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) will intervene in the standoff between Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III and Treasurer Jinny Hermano over the latter’s refusal to sign the payrolls of excess job hires.

BLGF Acting Regional Director Gilbert Gumabay said in an interview that he was directed by their central office through the Department of Finance (DOF) to intercede in the issue after the city government sought help from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

“They wrote a letter to the President and he directed the DOF and our central office to act on this that is why I came into the picture,” Gumabay said on Thursday.

Hermano has constantly refused to sign the payrolls of excess job hires due to limited appropriations under the 2018 reenacted budget.

He has maintained this stand despite directives from the mayor himself and the two legal opinions from the City Legal Office (CLO), and an audit report from the Internal Audit Service (IAS) Office debunking his claims on the budget shortage.

Recently, a legislative hearing was also conducted by the Sangguniang Panlungsod in the hopes of settling the issue.

City Accountant Michelle Lopez, City Budget Officer Ninda Atinado, Atty. Mary Joan Montaño-Pallada of the Internal Audit Service (IAS) Office, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Iloilo City head Atty. Ferdinand Panes and CLO chief Roledo Dela Cruz were present in the meeting.

During the hearing, Hermano insisted that each office must keep to their allocated number of job hires under the reenacted budget.

Councilor Plaridel Nava, committee on appropriations chair who led the hearing, said he would give Hermano a chance to take a deeper and closer look into the delayed payrolls.

Nava said that he will reach out to Mayor Jose Espinosa III for a compromise agreement, particularly on the participation of the finance committee in the hiring and payment of job orders.

On Wednesday, Gumabay said he met with the mayor and Hermano to assess and evaluate the situation.

“Ang pwedeng gawin namin, we will to see to it kung proper ba yung mga actions ng treasurer and we will be giving advise or recommendation. As of now, we are still evaluating it,” he said.

As of now, Gumabay said they are still evaluating the basis of hiring of the job hires, the documents prepared by each party, and the legalities of the actions of the treasurer.

“Subong we will continue with the evaluation on the basis of hiring identify natin, documents prepared, if it can be applied to the appropriations or ordinance, titingnan natin kung tumatama ba lahat yung actions ng treasurer sa hindi niya pag-facilitate ng sweldo and tingnan natin yung documents,” he said.

Based on the result of the evaluation, Gumabay said they will give proper recommendations and actions to the treasurer.

“If the result of our evaluation is positive na dapat masiswelduhan yung job hires, magbibigay lang kami ng advise or recommendation,” he said.

He emphasized that they will come up with a decision based on legal basis instead of basing it on a win-win situation.

“It will always be based on a legal basis not on just on a win-win situation,” he stressed.

While the appointment of the city treasurer is by the national government, Gumabay said he is still accountable to the local government unit (LGU) where he is assigned.

He added that the first administrative supervision of the city treasurer will come from the local chief executive.

“Since the treasurer is assigned in the LGU, the first administrative supervision will come from the local chief executive regarding his presence in the municipality, his actions and financial management,” Gumabay said.

Around 388 excess job hires have not received their salaries for two months because of the salary impasse, as reported by Atinado.

The total estimated value of the salaries is P1.841 million, Atinado said.