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Masbate employees may have to return fat bonuses

By Jonas Cabiles Soltes Inquirer Southern Luzon 1:13 am | Friday, February 1st, 2 13 ! "3 #! $%SB%&' CI&()Last *e+ember, about " em,loyees o- the ,ro.in+ial /o.ernment o$asbate had reason to ha.e an abundant holiday 0hen ea+h o- them re+ei.ed 1!1, as a Christmas bonus2 3o0, the em,loyees are an4ious they may ha.e to return the bonus be+ause to, $asbate o--i+ials ha.e -ound that their bene.olen+e has landed them in hot 0ater2 &he o--i+ials 0ere a++used o- dishonesty and /ra-t and +orru,tion -or reali/nin/ 1!2215 million in ,ersonnel ser.i+es sa.in/s into 6,rodu+ti.ity enhan+ement in+enti.es7 or bonuses2 8nli9e in the Senate, 0hi+h en:oys a +onstitutionally /uaranteed -is+al autonomy that allo0s Senate 1resident Juan 1on+e 'nrile to reali/n sa.in/s o- the +hamber, li9e /i.in/ 112; million in 6bonus7 to ea+h o- the 1# senators, there is no su+h lu+9 -or lo+al /o.ernment units2 Senators +an e.en liquidate throu/h a mere +erti-i+ation -unds dra0n -rom e4+ess maintenan+e and other o,eratin/ e4,enses2 <ith the +erti-i+ation, the Commission on %udit =C>%? is barred -rom e4aminin/ ho0 the -unds 0ere used2 Lo+al +hie- e4e+uti.es)/o.ernors or mayors)+annot use sa.in/s unless authorized by the ,ro.in+ial board throu/h a reali/nment ordinan+e that 0ill ha.e to be a,,ro.ed by the ma:ority o- its members2 Absence of quorum In $asbate@s +ase, ho0e.er, the reali/nment ordinan+e 0as bein/ questioned, as it 0as a,,ro.ed alle/edly in the absen+e o- a quorum2 &he a++used o--i+ials 0ere Ao.2 Bizalina Sea+honCLanete, Di+e Ao.2 Di+ente Eomer Be.il and 1ro.in+ial Board $embers %l-redo %lim, Juan 12 San+hez Sr2, %lbert Din+ent Chu, Eamil+ar %rre/adas II, Bi+ar Dasquez and Li/a n/ Baran/ay re,resentati.e to the board $anuel Eermosa2 Complaint in Ombudsman Sandra Cam, ,resident o- the <histleblo0ers@ %sso+iation o- the 1hili,,ines, -iled +om,laints in the >--i+e o- the >mbudsman and the >--i+e o- the 1resident on Jan2 1! a/ainst Be.il and the si4 ,ro.in+ial board members2

Cam said the .i+e /o.ernor and the board members held a session on *e+2 1 des,ite the absen+e o- a quorum and ,assed a resolution and subsequent ordinan+e a,,ro.in/ the reali/nment o-unds2 She said Lanete 0as also liable -or im,lementin/ a -aulty ordinan+e2 Illegal disbursement 6Su+h ille/al disbursement +ertainly has +aused undue in:ury to the ,ro.in+ial /o.ernment,7 said Cam, a nati.e o- Batuan to0n in &i+ao Island in $asbate, 0ho -urnished the Inquirer a +o,y othe +om,laint2 Cam said there 0as no quorum as only se.en, in+ludin/ the .i+e /o.ernor, 0ere ,resent durin/ the *e+2 1 session2 $asbate, bein/ a -irstC+lass ,ro.in+e, has a 1!Cmember le/islati.e body: the .i+e /o.ernor, as ,residin/ o--i+er, and 13 ,ro.in+ial board members)1 ele+ted and three e4Co--i+io members re,resented by the ,residents o- the ,ro.in+ial Li/a n/ m/a Baran/ays, San//unian/ Fabataan =SF? and the muni+i,al +oun+ilors@ -ederation2 6%nd yet these se.en members in attendan+e 0ere deemed as +onstitutin/ a quorumG &he truth, ho0e.er, is that the res,ondent HboardI members, bein/ only se.en in number, did not le/ally +onstitute a quorum,7 Cam said2 She said the de+laration o- a quorum durin/ the session 0as not only /ross dishonesty but also /ra.e mis+ondu+t, /ra.e abuse o- authority and an a+t ,re:udi+ial to the best interest o- the ser.i+e2 6&his is so be+ause the se.en members ,resent, out o- 1! members o- the San//unian/ 1anlala0i/an, +an ne.er be +onsidered a quorum be+ause a quorum is +onstituted by the ma:ority o- the entire membershi, o- the H,ro.in+ial boardI 0ho had been ele+ted and quali-ied,7 Cam said2 Local Government Code &he head o- the 0histleblo0ers@ /rou, said that under the Lo+al Ao.ernment Code o- 1""1, ei/ht, not se.en, members -or the ,ro.in+ial board +onstituted a quorum2 She +ited a resolution by the ,ro.in+ial board o- Com,ostela Dalley in 2 /o.ernor to enter into a +onstru+tion +ontra+t 0ith a +ertain +om,any2 ! that authorized the

Cam said only se.en members o- the ,ro.in+ial board ,assed the resolution and it 0as stru+9 do0n by the Su,reme Court, 0hi+h de+lared the measure null and .oid be+ause the board had no authority to ,ass it in the absen+e o- a quorum2

Be.il, in an inter.ie0 0ith the Inquirer, insisted there 0as a quorum durin/ the *e+2 1 session o- the San//unian/ 1anlala0i/an2 Angelo eyes opinion Ee said the basis -or de+larin/ a quorum 0as an o,inion made by the *e,artment o- the Interior and Lo+al Ao.ernment =*ILA? -or 'ulalia &alaran, ,ro.in+ial a++ountant o- Catanduanes, and duly si/ned by then Interior Se+retary %n/elo Beyes on Feb2 1 , 2 J2 &he o,inion o- the *ILA re-erred to a bud/et ordinan+e ,assed and a,,ro.ed by only -our members o- the ,ro.in+ial board o- Catanduanes throu/h a s,e+ial session on $ar+h 2 !2 *urin/ the 2 ! s,e+ial session o- the ,ro.in+ial board o- Catanduanes, ei/ht members 0ere in $anila)0ithout tra.el orders)-or a lun+heon meetin/ 0ith then 1resident Aloria $a+a,a/alC %rroyo2 6Een+e-orth, i- 0e 0ere to a,,ly Su,reme Court do+trines to the instant +ase, it 0ould seem that the e--e+ti.e absen+e o- the ei/ht HboardI members 0ould result in their e4+lusion in the determination o- a quorum,7 said Beyes in the *ILA o,inion2 Only ! effectively absent <hile it 0as true that si4 members o- the ,ro.in+ial board 0ere not ,resent durin/ the deliberation, three o- them)John Eenry 3a/a, SF +hair Jeral,h C2 San+hez and 'nrique Le/as,i)0ere +onsidered 6e--e+ti.ely absent7 durin/ the *e+2 1 session, in 0hi+h the reali/nment o- sa.in/s -or the bonuses o- em,loyees 0ere ,assed2 63a/a and Le/as,i 0ere in $anila 0hile San+hez 0as in Cebu 0ithout tra.el orders,7 he said2 &hus, Be.il said, only three other board members)Julius &uason, Cherry %ba,o and muni+i,al +oun+ilors lea/ue ,resident %lberto %bayon)0ho 0ere not ,resent durin/ the session, should be +ounted as absent2 <ith the 6e--e+ti.e absen+e7 o- 3a/a, Le/as,i and San+hez, there 0as still a quorum des,ite the absen+e o- &uason, San+hez and %bayon, a++ordin/ to Be.il2 Ee said the e4+lusion o- three board members 0ould still ma9e 11 the total members o- the ,ro.in+ial board at the time, des,ite the absen+e o- the three other members2 6&here 0ere si4 board members in addition to me2 So 0e 0ere 5 in all,7 he said2 Be.il said the +oun+il ,assed the resolution and ordinan+e le/ally and in /ood -aith2 6<hen 0e ,assed the ordinan+e, 0e 0ere +on-ident that 0e 0ere on the side o- the la0 inasmu+h as 0e 0anted to /i.e bonuses to our em,loyees in the s,irit o- Christmas,7 he said2

Be.il a++used Cam o- -orum sho,,in/ 0hen she -iled t0o se,arate +ases 0ith the same -orm and substan+e in t0o se,arate entities2 &he 1hili,,ine *aily Inquirer tried to rea+h Lanete -or her side but she de+lined to +omment2 "arassment But Jose &amayo Jr2, ,ro.in+ial administrator, told the Inquirer that the /o.ernor@s a+tion 0as ministerial 0hen she im,lemented the ordinan+e and that she had -ull trust in the 0isdom o- the ,ro.in+ial board2 6It@s :ust ,oliti+al harassment a/ainst the /o.ernor hurled by her o,,onents,7 &amayo said2 In a letter to the +ommittee on a,,ro,riations o- the ,ro.in+ial board, 3ilda &ine/ra, ,ro.in+ial treasurer, said only 13;,; ,5 0ere a+tually disbursed -or the bonuses o- em,loyees2 Inequity Last month, 0hen the unequal /i-ts and bonuses that 'nrile had /i.en to t0o /rou,s o- senators +ame to li/ht, -ormer 3ational &reasurer Leonor Briones said the +onstitutional ,ro.ision /rantin/ -is+al autonomy to +ertain bodies +reated inequity2 6In /o.ernment itsel-, you don@t ha.e uni-ormity and equality,7 Briones 0as quoted as sayin/2 % senator is -ree to do 0hat he 0ishes 0ith a 112;Cmillion bonus -rom the Senate@s sa.in/s but a +ler9 at the *e,artment o- %/ri+ulture 0ill be as9ed to re-und any bonus -rom his a/en+y@s sa.in/s, she said2 It 0as also re,orted that em,loyees in the 3ational Eousin/ %uthority and other state +or,orations 0ere /rumblin/ that they 0ere bein/ as9ed to return bonuses they had re+ei.ed in the ,ast2 #eductions &hey said those retirin/ 0ere -a+in/ the ,ros,e+t o- dedu+tions -rom their retirement ,ay i- they did not reimburse the bonuses)in some +ases u, to 12 , a++umulated throu/h the years2 &he Constitution authorizes the 1resident, Senate 1resident, Eouse S,ea9er, Chie- Justi+e or heads o- +onstitutional +ommissions to au/ment any item in the /eneral a,,ro,riations la0 -or their o--i+e -rom sa.in/s2 Sin+e this is +learly s,elled out in the Constitution, the trans-er o- -unds has been 6le/itimized7 by many administrations, althou/h the /eneral ,rin+i,le is that sa.in/s 0ould re.ert to /eneral -unds or the treasury, Briones said2

Briones said that 0hile /o.ernment a/en+ies en:oyin/ -is+al autonomy, su+h as the Senate or the Eouse, +ould /i.e a0ay -at bonuses to their em,loyees, re/ular a/en+ies li9e the de,artments 0ere allo0ed by la0 to /rant a ma4imum 11 , bonus2 Sen2 $iriam *e-ensorCSantia/o has as9ed %udit Chair,erson Ara+e 1ulidoC&an -or a 6study, re,ort and re+ommendation7 that 0ould on+e and -or all de-ine the +onstitutional 0ords 6sa.in/s7 and 6,ubli+ ,ur,oses27