ILOILO City – Mayor Jose Espinosa III relieved from her post Iloilo City Community College (ICCC) administrator Ma. Mathilde Treñas Octavio and ordered an investigation on the alleged irregularities in the school. The ICCC was launched in 2012 to serve poor but deserving students.

The City Legal Office (CLO) recommended the axing of Octavio and the conduct of a probe “with the end in view of knowing the truth about the alleged anomalies.”

Four ICCC teachers – Anelyn Janaban, Maria Fe Alejandria, Rezlie Martinez, and Arthur Soqueña – recently urged the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) to conduct an inquiry on the college’s operations and how its budget is being utilized.

The “non-standardization” of teachers’ salaries and alleged non-observance of the magna carta for teachers, among others, were their main gripes.

According to Atty. Ruledo Dela Cruz, CLO officer-in-charge, the alleged anomalies “somehow affect the integrity of the school.”

Octavio’s relief took effect on Sept. 12.

The CLO recommended the creation of an ad hoc committee to conduct the investigation.

Espinosa named City Administrator Hernando Galvez as committee chairman. The members are dela Cruz and CLO’s Atty. Mary Milagros Hechanova and Atty. Mark Piad.

The investigation should start “effective immediately”, according to the mayor. He, however, did not set a deadline.

ICCC’s Associate Professor V Catalina Sanico was designated as ICCC officer-in-charge while Octavio was re-assigned to the city hall as an executive assistant.

Octavio was also relieved as administrator of the Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC).

TIIC instructor Joel Labatorio was designated as officer-in-charge of the institute.

More ICCC officials may be relieved from their posts. Espinosa said he is leaving it up to the committee to decide.

“The truthfulness or falsity of the allegations can be ferreted out in a formal investigation,” stated the CLO recommendation.

Espinosa denied politics was behind Octavio’s relief and the probe he ordered.

Octavio is a cousin of Cong. Jerry Treñas who is running for mayor in next year’s mid-term elections.

According to the four complaining teachers, because the ICCC teachers’ salaries were lower compared to those of other local colleges and universities, there was a fast turnover of faculty members. This, in turn, had made the ICCC a mere training ground of teachers, they lamented.

The teachers also questioned the promotion process at ICCC. They claimed some of those promoted were not qualified while those qualified were not promoted.

The ICCC library was also a concern, added the four teachers.

Most books were “not aligned” with the courses offered by the school – Bachelor of Science in Office Administration and Bachelor of Science in Travel Management – they claimed.

“Kinahanglan may action ako,” said Espinosa.

Last month the city council conducted an inquiry but Espinosa apparently wanted a more exhaustive probe.

Octavio described the allegations as “blatant lies” and “unfounded.”

“If anything, these were “clear attempt(s)” to malign her, she said.

The college’s books are open to public scrutiny, said Octavio, including donations from benefactors.

“Financial adjustments related to the salaries” were “dependent on the Personal Services ceiling of the Iloilo City government,” she added.

The Personal Services budget, as defined by the Department of Budget and Management’s Local Budget Circular No. 98 issued on Oct. 14, 2011, collectively refers to all budgetary items intended for the payment of salaries wages, step increments, and other compensation of permanent, temporary, contractual, and casual employees of the local government unit.

Under the Local Government Code of 1991 (Section 325), the total appropriations, whether annual or supplemental, for Personal Services of a local government unit for one fiscal year shall not exceed 45 percent in the case of first to third class provinces, cities and municipalities, and 55 percent in the case of fourth class or lower, of the total annual income from regular sources realized in the next preceding fiscal year.

Octavio said college scholarships / financial assistance from ICCC benefactors were properly accounted even if some of them wished not to be publicly recognized because they wanted to remain low-key in their philanthropy.

“There are benefactors who wish to remain anonymous. We honor such request. We yearly give recognition but some do not attend because they wish to remain anonymous,” said Octavio.

She also denied she was operating the ICCC canteen. The canteen was in fact a cooperative backed by an ICCC Board of Trustees resolution.

The cooperative’s book is open for scrutiny by anyone, said Octavio.

“This (allegation) is a clear attempt (t)o defam(e) and malign the person of the college administrator,” she stressed./PN

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