SEVERAL mayors from Misamis Oriental left for a vacation trip to Europe on the first week of June amid allegation that it was funded by presidential contender.

One of them is scheduled to come home today, Friday, after a two-week Euro trip.

Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano confirmed to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, June 16, that indeed some mayors were on vacation in Europe.

Sources said that these mayors went to Europe allegedly funded by Vice President Jejomar Binay. They requested their names be withheld.

Governor Emano said “their travel would always be about politics, but right now they are spending from their own pockets and this suddenly becomes an issue?”

Vice Governor Joey Pelaez also heard about the trip, but couldn’t confirm it since his office doesn’t deal with the municipal chief executives’ travels.

Asked also if the trip was allegedly funded by Binay, Pelaez denied it.

"Definitely no, the Vice President did not fund it. Well, not Vice President Binay, that one I can confirm kasi ako sana mauna doon if siya ang nag-fund. Siguro, if it's a local travel, madali lang e-charge yan sa government, pero pag travel outside the country, mahirap yan," Pelaez told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in an interview at his office Thursday afternoon.

The same sources alleged that mayors Ken Niño T. Uyguangco (Medina), Rommel C. Maslog (Talisayan), Grace A. Jardin (Jasaan), Paulino Y. Emano (Tagoloan), Oliver L. Ubaub (Laguindingan, Enerito J. Acain V, (Initao), Jaime C. Roa (Naawan) and Wellie G. Lim (Lugait) were invited to the trip in Europe.

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro called and sent text messages to the mayors, but only two responded.

As this paper called Tagoloan Mayor Emano’s mobile, his secretary answered it and said the mayor was in Europe and due to arrive today, June 19.

Another source who is under the employ of the municipality of Tagoloan told this paper that Mayor Emano and his wife left the country between June 4 or 5 for a vacation in Europe.

Talisayan Mayor Maslog confirmed to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Thursday that he was also invited by these mayors to join them, but he declined since he is busy taking care of other things.

Maslog said the trip was not funded by the government saying, "Personal man to nila na travel, kay kung funded pa to, naa nako didto, dili gyud ko paulahi. Kadtong mga mayor na naay kaya, mao to ang naa didto, mga negosyante to sila."

No travel authority

This paper also found out that the mayors didn’t have travel authority from the Department of Interior and Local Government which issued a Memorandum Circular in 2006 governing foreign travel on local government officials and employees.

Edward Bhagwani, provincial director of DILG in Misamis Oriental, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Thursday that as far as his office is concerned it did not receive any request on travel abroad from any Misamis Oriental mayors.

Bhagwani said the DILG authorizes the international travel for local government officials and workers.

"We have to point out that they are obliged to ask for travel authority since they are government officials, it may be personal or official, regardless of the nature of the travel," Bhagwani said.

The travel authority should be requested 10 days before the departure date.

Travel authority and leave of absence are the documents that the Bureau of Immigration requires for the mayors to leave the country, he added.

"Since nakalarga man sila, possible gyud na wala nila gi-declare na mayors sila, basin private individual lang ila ingon, and the Immigration will not know whether they are government officials or not, gawas kung naa silay listahan pero wala man," he furthered.

Bhagwani also said that mayors can always invoke their right to travel but “as government officials they must ask for travel authority.”

He added that local chief executives should file a leave of absence if they travel even on personal capacity.

“Kung wala sila nag-file ug leave then mapamatud-an na ningbiya sila unya nilarga sila leaving their responsibility, then pwede gyud naay mu-file ug reklamo against sa ila (If they didn’t file a leave of absence and it is proven that they travelled leaving their responsibility behind, then it is possible that a complaint against them can be filed)."

"The point is, whether official travel or not, they need travel authority since they are government officials," Bhagwani reiterated.