Governor’s medals first given in 2005 yet: Gwen-A A +A
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SUSPENDED Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the distribution of the “governor’s medal” that bears her face started in her first term or at the end of the school year in 2005.
This has become a tradition upon the request of school pupils, Garcia said.
“Dili ako ang nag insister sa akong nawong, maoy gusto nila (It wasn’t me who insisted on putting my face on the medals. It was what they wanted),” Garcia said, referring to the pupils and school administrators.
The medals will be awarded to pupils of public schools who excel.
Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said they will study what to do with the medals embossed with the suspended governor’s image.
“Moingon pud sila anugon but we have to balance between anugon and what is right. We will think right this time and we will right the wrong procedures (They’ll say it’s such a waste but we’ll have to balance between being wasteful and what is right),” Magpale told reporters.
She said there was a suggestion to melt the medals and remake them, but she doubts whether the Province will spend again for them.
Although there was a purchase request, there was no report yet if papers or documents were completed for the medals, the acting governor pointed out.
“As I said, if everything is in order (and with) the supporting documents, we will pay. As to the distribution, I don’t know if it’s covered because it’s the election period,” she said, referring to election prohibitions.
“We will give out medals. We have medals but without the face of Governor Gwen,” Magpale added.
The acting governor is more worried about the cost, since the Province is dependent on the Internal Revenue Allotment.
“When amounts like these are involved, we have to wait because we are now aging the account. We’ll have to pay what needs to be paid first,” Magpale said.
She said the amount used to buy the medals could have produced more scholars.
“You know P520,000 can go along way by adding more scholars,” Magpale said.
Garcia assured that the medals are not overpriced: 2,600 medals for P520,000, or P200 apiece.
The 1,300 pieces of imported silver medals cost P260,000 while the other 1,300 imported brass medals cost the same.
The suspended governor said that since it is called governor’s medal, her face was engraved on it, saying the shop already made a mold for that.
“Alangan man pud iyang nawong ang ibutang. Ambot kung mahalin ba (It wouldn’t make sense if her face was on the medal. And I doubt if it would sell),” she said, taking a swipe at Magpale.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum circular 2010-101 bans the names, initials, images and pictures of government officials on billboards and signs of government programs, projects and properties.
“Karon ra man nang memorandum. Kanang medal since my first term pa na. Hagbay na ‘nang governor’s medal (The memorandum is new. The governor’s medal has been there for a long time),” Garcia said.
“Lets not make a mountain out of a molehill, (by saying) scandalous ang nawong nako. Hangyo man na sa mga bata. (The children asked for my face to be on the medals),” Garcia said.
DILG Legal Officer Aiza Fiel Nogra, however, said the memorandum circular still applies to present conditions.
She clarified that the circular, which applies from 2010 onwards, remains an advisory and does not specify any sanction, except for the phrase “will be dealt with accordingly.”
Nogra said it is now up to the Commission on Audit to consider whether the purchase of medal is irregular or not.
Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Ferdinand Gujilde said there is no violation if the image of a local candidate is imprinted on a medal and awarded prior to the campaign period on March 29.
Under Section 1 of Comelec Resolution 9615, any medium containing an image associated with a candidate, intended to draw public attention to promote, directly or indirectly, the candidate’s election would be considered as election propaganda.
Gujilde said it may fall under other forms of election propaganda not prohibited by law.
“Note that even if the medal may be seen by a few people only, still, it reaches a segment of a population, hence covered by the definition of election propaganda,” Gujilde said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.
“It looks like a gray area, but the issue is more of propriety. If we ban candidates from campaigning during graduation rites, we should also ban awards associated with candidates,” Gujilde said.
Garcia said it has been the practice of Capitol to distribute medals to different schools for their graduation and recognition rites.
“Mao ning madawat dunay election o wala, naa na ‘na (It’s what they get whether there are elections or not),” she said.
But Cebu Schools Superintendent Arden Monisit Monisit who assumed his post in 2010 said, “I cannot remember nay ingon ana nga (that there’s such a) medal.”
He said the usual practice of school administrators is to buy medals from bookstores or medal stores and engrave the name of the valedictorian or salutatorian.
Cebu’s 2012 socio-economic profile revealed that it has 295 national high schools and 1,116 public elementary schools, distributed in eight divisions.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 20, 2013.