Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why I oppose the P25,000.00 cash gift given to our municipal employees

Many people have formed a bad opinion about me because of my opposition to the Php. 25,000.00 cash gift (3.6 Million pesos in total) requested by the municipal employees, which was hastily approved by our Sangguniang Bayan and released by our vice-mayor while I was away on official business. Some say I am a miser, some say I am just plain mean.

Let me set things straight: By opposing the cash gift, I am also depriving myself of Php25,000.00 because I too was due to receive it as per the resolution passed by the Sanggunian, together with all the other elective officials in the municipality.

The reason I oppose the granting of the cash gift is that it is simply contrary to law. It violates Section 325 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which says:

Section 325. General Limitations. - The use of the provincial, city, and municipal funds shall be subject to the following limitations:

(a) The total appropriations, whether annual or supplemental, for personal services of a local government unit for one (1) fiscal year shall not exceed forty-five percent (45%) in the case of first to third class provinces, cities and municipalities....

The Municipality of Gubat's Personal Services (PS), meaning the total expenses for the payment of salaries, wages and other compensation , already exceeds 45% of the total annual budget. The granting of the Php25,000.00 cash gift further bloated the excess in the PS expenditures of the municipality by close to four million pesos.

What about the Php10,000.00 cash gift due to all government employees announced by President Aquino? The President's Administrative Order No. 3 says:

SECTION 4. PEI for Employees in LGUs. The grant of the one-time PEI to employees in LGUs, including those in barangay governments, shall be determined by the sanggunian depending on the LGU financial capability, subject to the Personal Services limitation in the LGU budgets under R.A. No. 7160....

It is very clear from the text of the President's AO No. 3 that the granting of a Php10,000.00 cash gift to LGU employees is still subject to the PS limit set by the Local Government Code. If an LGU has already exceeded the limit, as Gubat has, it should not grant even the Php10,000.00 cash gift mentioned by President Aquino, much less Php25,000.00.

The grant of the Php25,000.00 cash gift to our municipal employees, approved by our Sangguniang Bayan and released by our vice-mayor, is, therefore, contrary to law (not to mention the spirit of general austerity being laudably introduced by our president), and that is why I stand firm against it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wishing the best for Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is free again. After seven years of house arrest imposed by the Burmese military junta, she is free again to walk outside her lakeside home and resume her work building the democratic movement in Burma.

As the many Burma observers keep pointing out, we have been at this same juncture before. The military junta has in the past released Suu Kyi only to have her re-arrested again. News reports say her latest release is unconditional, but she is free only at the pleasure of the junta and could be re-arrested anytime.

I sincerely wish and hope that Suu Kyi will not be re-arrested, and the other 2,000 political prisoners be released from Insein prison. What is so sad about Burma is that because of this political struggle, many young people, perhaps the country's very brightest, lost their youth. Instead of plotting their future career paths, they are languishing in jail, driven to exile abroad, or killing time in a refugee camp in Chiang Mai. If you are interested to know some of their stories, you can read Christina Fink's Living Silence.

It is very, very sad. Personally, no other international issue affects me more than Burma's struggle for democracy. It is, for me, Southeast Asia's greatest issue of our time. The ASEAN can not move forward as one regional bloc that could discuss such issues as,say, a regional currency, without resolving once and for all the Burma impasse. Suu Kyi will have to face the question of what to do with international trade sanctions against Burma. The Wall Street Journal reports today that she has given signals she might be revising her thinking on that matter.

I heard Suu Kyi being interviewed and she said she's having a hard time deciding how to connect to younger generations and to the world: Facebook or Twitter. It is nice -and oddly comforting - that after many years of being cut off from the world by a brutal military, The Lady who is the world's most inspiring advocate for democracy and human rights is now dealing with questions as mundane as what social network to register to.

we are all keeping our fingers crossed as we hope for the best for Burma(and those status updates to come soon from Aung San Suu Kyi).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The difficult life of a teetotaler

Last night, I was at the oath-taking of the officials of the Barangay Defense System (BDS) and after the short program, an old lady approached and reproached me repeatedly for being so young. I kept answering: Thank you, it's a compliment. Gaining no traction with her harangue, she then asked me for money to buy a bottle of gin. She was incredulous I didn't have cash. All the while I was thinking, "Shouldn't she be home knitting and minding her liver?"

It is a real health concern: Some heavy drinkers are afflicted with Hepatitis B (see information on the disease from the Mayo Clinic here), and because they never got tested for the disease, are unknowingly inflicting further damage to their livers by drinking alcohol.

One of the hazards of being a mayor is that you invariably get asked for money to buy alcohol, sometimes by people who obviously have had so much to drink already. During the election campaign, I was initially torn about the subject of alcohol. Personally, I could live without it. The Taliban could take over the Philippines tomorrow and I won't be pining for beer.

One classmate who operated a sari-sari store before simply refused to sell alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. She was not Muslim or Iglesia, but as a matter of principle simply refused to sell those items.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Job Opening: Market Supervisor

Gubat Public Market
Gubat, Sorsogon

Salary Grade 18


1.Bachelor’s Degree preferably in, but not limited to, business-related disciplines.2.Proficient or at least familiar with major office applications, especially Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel or similar equivalent programs.3. With initiative to undertake innovative projects with minimal supervision.4. Able to work with people from all walks of life.5. Excellent communication skills.6. Ability to develop alternative solutions to problems & reach decisions.7. Civil Service eligible.


1. Supervise the operations and activities within the public market pertaining to sanitation and orderliness.
2. Implement market code and other ordinances/existing rules and regulations.
3. Supervise “Market Day” and assure that the related ordinance is properly implemented.
4. Formulate and, subject to the approval of the Local Chief Executive, implement programs, plans and activities to enhance the efficiency of the operation of the public market.
5. Perform such other duties and functions as may be delegated by higher authorities from time to time.

For applications, please fax to (056) 311 7962 or e-mail to and/or You can also send your applications directly to Ms. Aida Mendivil, Human Resources Manager, at the municipal hall. Applications will be accepted until October 25, 2010. Examination and panel interview to be scheduled after October 25. Successful applicant to to begin November.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Will blog again

I met Dr. Alvin Marcelo of UP-PGH and he asked me if I blog and he casually remarked I should blog my observations. He didn't know that I was once an assiduous blogger.

I promise to blog again once I get somebody to help me in the office so I could have some time to write. These days, when I arrive at home, I'm so beat I could do nothing else but lie down and sleep. I really think I should blog again and transform this blog into a local government-centered blog.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The president's power over the national budget

Much is made of the power of Congress to make appropriations, but really the power is with the president. After the sound and the fury of the congressional hearings, after the General Appropriations Act has been published, the president can simply impound what she doesn't want released, declare the unappropriated money as savings and then use that savings to meet expenditures she likes.

News reports say that Congress has finally curtailed this power of the president by including a provision in the recently passed budget expressly forbidding the president from impounding funds. The president is now in a Catch-22 situation. If she vetoes that provision, she confirms her malicious intent on the budget all those past years; if she does not veto it, she would in effect be curtailing the power of (possibly) President Noynoy Aquino in preparation for her being Speaker of the House.