ILOILO – Employees of the Iloilo provincial government appealed to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to approve the P3.7-billion proposed 2019 budget. Otherwise, they said, around 2,000 regular workers will not be able to get a salary increase.
The proposed budget – P3,712,252,733 – includes the allocation for the fourth and final tranche of the 2015 Salary Standardization Law for regular capitol employees.
Members of the Association of Iloilo Provincial Government Employees asked Provincial Board members in writing to pass the budget, said Joecil Mayor, association president.
Association officials recently met with rank-and-file employees, job hires and contract of service workers who may be adversely affected by the non-approval of the 2019 budget.
The letter was submitted Wednesday to the office of Vice Gov. Christine Garin, the Provincial Board presiding officer. Copies of it were furnished to the Board members.
In the letter addressed to Garin, Mayor and association vice president Ray Cabarles said the passage of the 2019 annual budget is “one of the most crucial aspects of our service.”
The salary increase covered by the 2019 budget “may raise the quality of lives and economic status of our employees to counter the ill effect of [the] increase in [the] prices of basic commodities and other services,” they said.
“We are also looking after the welfare of the contract of service and job order personnel whose renewal of contracts relies on the passage of the budget,” said the association officials.
A recent revamp in committee chairmanships at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan threw the budget’s approval into uncertainty.
The Provincial Board has only two sessions left to deliberate on the budget before the year ends. Last week, new appropriations committee chairwoman Dorothy Paes said her panel might start the deliberations this week.
No deliberation on the budget happened during their regular session Tuesday, Dec. 4 – Paes was absent. Their next regular session is on Tuesday next week, Dec. 11 – when Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. will deliver his “State of the Province Address.”
The proposed budget will have to go through a committee hearing, and then first, second and third readings.
Earlier Defensor warned that 1,660 job hires and contract of service employees assigned at 11 district hospitals and the Iloilo Provincial Hospital may not get paid with a reenacted budget.
The reenacted budget will not include the salaries of contract of service and job hires for the new fiscal year. “Indi sila maswelduhan,” said the governor.
Mayor was optimistic that the Board members would heed their plea, considering that thousands of workers will be deprived of their salary or salary increase.
But he acknowledged that the workers would have no choice if the provincial government ends up with a reenacted budget.
“Kon amo ina ang matabo te siguro wala na kami sang mahimu,” said Mayor. “At the same time, positive man kami gihapon nga mapasar ang budget.”
With regard to rumors that some employees were planning to stage a protest if the proposed 2019 budget does not get approved, Mayor said, “Wala na namon nadala sa agenda … wala namon naistoryahan.”/PN