Guv offers compromise to SP on 2019 budget

By: Gail T. Momblan

ILOILO Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. said the opposition-led Sangguniang Panlalawigan could do whatever it wants on the proposed 2019 budget as long as the fourth tranche of the salary increase of Capitol employees are released in the next three months of the year.

The fate of the P3.7-billion budget remains uncertain as the provincial board continues to scrutinize certain items like the more than P500-million allocation for the 20 percent development fund.

In a press conference on Jan 3, Defensor offered a compromise to the provincial board if only to hasten the passage of the 2019 budget and implement the salary increase.

He said the board “can save the day” and still act on the 2019 budget.

Kon indi sila kasaho sang iban nga parti sang budget, para lang sa aton empleyado kag sa mga kasimanwa ta nga kinahanglan ayuda, we are amenable for them to amend the budget para mapa-release ta lang dayun ang 4th tranche sang salary increase sang aton empleydo.We are willing,” Defensor said.

“Ang ila ginakulbaan sina kay kuno ang 2019 budget usaron ni Gov Arthur Defensor ipamoltkia ya. Kon gusto nila nga aprubahan nga waay sang pamolitika, waay sang tuyo nga pamolitkahan ang budget nga na, ibalik nila ang tanan nga appropriation sa 2018 budget para lang indi madula ang benepisyo ta sa budget nga ginapaabot sang aton kasimanwa ilabi na sang aton mga empleyado,” he added.

Based on the budget submitted by the Office of the Governor to the provincial board, P516,391,147 was allocated for projects funded by the 20% DF.

In 2018, the allocation for the 20% DF totalled P469.940 million.

The 20% DF came from the Internal Revenue Allotment share of the province. The IRA came from revenues realized by the national government.

Board Member Dorothy Paes, appropriations committee chair, said the lack of an itemized list or breakdown of the 20% DF allocation is the reason why hearings on the 2019 budget grinded to a halt.

“We’re dealing with P3.7 billion. This is people’s money. We need to scrutinize it,” Paes said in earlier interviews.

Paes said the executive department must clarify who will receive or avail of the 20% DF.

“I think ang amount dira nga naka-lump sum, wala ina siya detailed project list,” she added.

She said the committee found the questionable allotment for the 20% DF as they went over the budget.

“Gina-check man naton kung ano ang aton i-discuss sa hearing and then ginatun-an naton kung ano ang makita naton da nga kinahanglan i-clarify,” she said.

The majority bloc at the provincial board believes that the lump sum appropriation for the 20% DF might end up as pork barrel or discretionary fund of the Defensor administration in 2019 which is an election year.

Defensor’s son and namesake, third district Rep. Arthur Defensor Jr., is seeking to replace his father at the capitol. He will face fourth district Rep. Ferjenel Biron in the gubernatorial race.

“We need to clarify upod man sang SP and at the same time ang aton pumuluyo maintindihan nila diin gakalaladto ini (money),” Paes added.



Meanwhile, citing the law on salary increases under the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) of the Local Government Code, Defensor said that the fourth tranche of salary increase cannot be retroacted to January 2019.

“Siling nila aprubahan nila Marso pa para indi mausar ni Gov Defensor ang budget total pwede pa ang salary increase pwede maretroact sa January, indi na matuod. The law on salary increases under the IRR of Local Government Code is very, very clear, there can be no retroactive… the salary increases cannot be made retroactive,” he said.

But in a letter on Dec 10, 2018, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the retroactive application of the fourth tranche of the pay hike is allowed.

The letter was issued by DBM in response to Vice Governor Christine “Ting-Ting” Garin’s query: “If approval of the 2019 budget is delayed, will the fourth tranche of salary increase take effect retroactively to January 1, 2019?”.

The letter, which was signed by DBM Director IV Mae L. Chua, said “an approved annual budget shall be deemed to be operative and in full force and effect as of the beginning of the fiscal year.”

Citing Section 353 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), the DBM said “the fiscal year of LGUs shall be the period beginning from the first day of January and ending with the thirty-first of December of the same year.”

“Hence, the retroactive application of the implementation of the fourth tranche of compensation adjustment, pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 201, series of 2016, by an LGU under annual budget is allowed,” the DBM letter added.

In his final State of the Province Address on Dec 10, 2018, Defensor said the salary increase of Capitol workers and employment of contractual and job hires are in peril if the 2019 budget hangs.

But on Dec 29, Defensor renewed the services of contractual and job hires, particularly those deployed to public hospitals, citing that they are essential to the operations of the provincial government.