CEBU CITY -- For lack of quorum, Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. failed Monday to deliver his privilege speech wherein he would have brought up what he called Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s “tyranny”.
The speech would have lasted seven to 10 minutes covering issues such as the P5 entrance fee at the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) and the re-hiring of the 56 casual and contractual employees at the Capitol, he said.
He requested not to let him give details of the speech to avoid preempting his opportunity to finally deliver it next week.
The lack of quorum was not made intentional, Provincial Board (PB) members allied with the governor said.
But Sanchez said he was not informed that the governor had called for a luncheon meeting with the PB members before the session.
He said they couldn’t hold a caucus because there was no PB member around.
Sanchez said that his speech was not in the agenda nor had he informed ahead the PB members about it but his plan to deliver a privilege speech was reported in the papers and radio.
On Monday, he had equipment set up for live coverage over Bantay Radyo, a radio station he reportedly co-owns.
Sanchez told reporters that his not being able to deliver the privilege speech frustrated him “but not much” because he can do it some other Monday.
In Monday’s session, only seven members showed up: PB Members Agnes Magpale, Wilfredo Caminero, Peter John Calderon, Victor Maambong, Joven Mondigo Jr., Jose Ma. Gastardo, and Wenceslao Gakit.
PB Member Alfie Ouano, who joined them during the hearing, missed the session.
PB Member Mercede Calderon was seen entering the session hall but she left minutes before the session started.
In the PB, only Victoria Corominas is Sanchez’s ally. She was also absent Monday.
The lack of quorum, Maambong said, was not something they had planned.
“How can this be planned? It’s not true that all of us did not eat during the caucus, we ate during the caucus,” he said.
He said there was no formal caucus but there was a get-together and five of them -- he, Calderon, Magpale, Zambo and Bolo -- went to Sanchez’s office before the session.
To dismiss the notion that the lack of quorum at the session had been planned, PB Members Magpale, Calderon, Maambong and Ouano immediately called for a press conference after the session adjourned.
They said they did not plan anything against Sanchez even if some of them were seen earlier in their offices and they attended the luncheon meeting with the governor.
Magpale said their attendance in the governor’s luncheon meeting was to hear her side on the investigation conducted on seven casual employees whose renewal of contracts was being questioned by the committee of insourcing and outsourcing.
She said they also wanted to check who the seven employees were and asked them to justify their actual designation because they have also recommended some of them.
Maambong added that they are trying their best for the communication lines will be opened.”
“(And) that the battle will be outside, in the campaign. Although, we belong to different parties, we are trying our best that this should not be the forum for the political battle. We don’t have any intention of using our number, glaringly more than majority but, at the same time, we have maintained our respect to the governor and the vice governor,” Maambong said.
“And we have appealed to the parties not to use the (PB) as the battle ground,” he added.
Also on Monday, PB members Maambong, Calderon, Magpale, Zambo and Bolo arranged for a meeting with the governor and Sanchez.
Although the governor welcomed the move, it was not realized because the governor had a full schedule Monday.
Magpale, however, clarified that there is an ongoing negotiation and they are willing to ask Garcia again to talk to Sanchez.
Maambong also gave reasons why his colleagues missed the session.
PB Members Ouano and Calderon, Maambong said, had to attend to some guests in their offices.
PB member Rosemario Durano, he added, left a copy of a Memorandum of Agreement but went downstairs.
Bolo, in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu, said he was supposed to attend the session but he was informed that it was already adjourned so he proceeded to his office.
The PB holds a session every Mondays at 2 p.m.
But on Monday, the PB members started at 2:25 p.m. after Maambong called the attention of PB Secretary Aniceta Pasaylo that it’s already past 2 p.m.
Sanchez, for his part, said he planned to deliver a speech to defend his office and the PB.
“The title of my privilege speech is ‘In Defense of an Institution.’ I have to protect the institution, the vice governor’s office, not for myself. I have to defend the institution of the Sanngguniang Panlalawigan (SP) that’s why I have to deliver it here so I have to defend it in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 7160,” Sanchez told reporters.
RA 7160 is the Local Government Code of 1991, which is governing law on local governments.
Sought for comment, Capitol spokesperson Rory Jon Sepulveda said there is no tyranny in the Garcia administration.
He said it was Sanchez who started the discussion about the hiring of casual and contractual employees.
He said it was not supposed to be a problem because Garcia’s move was aboveboard. There is a regular review process before renewing an employee’s contract, he added.
PB Member Peter John Calderon also said that the governor did not terminate the services of any worker and the instruction given was to wait until the review process will be done.
Had Sanchez intended to deliver his speech, he could have called for a recess and had the other PB members come in. (Rizel S. Adlawan/Sun.Star Cebu)