ALLEGATIONS of politicking over the distribution of cash honorarium for barangay workers are heating things up at the Capitol as the May 13 elections draw near.
Barangay workers reportedly traveled 20.7 kilometers from their homes in the northern town of Liloan on Monday, March 11, to claim their cash honorarium from the Provincial Government only to be turned down.
Cotcot, Liloan Barangay Captain Lorena Yungco lamented that although the distribution was just held last Friday, March 8, the reason for withholding their honorarium was that the money had been liquidated.
The source of this information was a press statement sent to local newspapers Monday, March 11.
Several calls were made by SunStar Cebu to Yungco, but she was not available as of press time.
The press statement, though, quoted the village chief and two tanods from Barangay Jubay.
According to the press statement, Yungco had asked Capitol cash disbursement division chief Yolly Cabando to issue a note stating the refusal to release, but the latter referred her instead to lawyer Ramil Abing, the executive director of the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission.
“Abing was busy with meetings so Yungco approached (Cebu Provincial Legal Officer) lawyer Orvi Ortega about it, but Ortega told her it was not within his jurisdiction so he will still ask about it. Yungco and her 35 workers left the Capitol empty-handed by noontime,” the press statement said.
SunStar Cebu also tried to reach Cabando for comment, but she was not available as of press time.
Earlier that day, tanods, health workers and lupong tagapamayapa from Barangays Jubay, Tayud and San Vicente, all in Liloan, also allegedly suffered the same plight.
After Cotcot, workers from the mountain barangay of Mulao also reportedly visited the Capitol for the same purpose.
“Alejandro Bughaw, a tanod from Barangay Jubay, said they left the town at dawn without eating breakfast so they could be at the Capitol building even before the Monday morning flag ceremony. Another tanod, Romie Estay, said it is 'impossible' that the money, which was already allocated, could be reverted to the general fund that fast, knowing that the releasing for other workers was done last Friday,” the press statement said.
Bughaw claimed that they were having a seminar on firefighting, while the health workers were scheduled to conduct measles vaccination when Gov. Hilario Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale led the distribution of in Barangay Catarman.
Town candidates in Liloan allied with the Davide administration were also reportedly present during the distribution of cash honorarium.
Liloan is led by re-electionist Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco, daughter of Third District Rep. Gwen Garcia.
The gubernatorial race is a battle between Garcia and Magpale, both scions of prominent political families.
“First, how can the money be 'liquidated' already when the people who were supposed to receive and sign for the money DID NOT receive the money? Where did the money go? Second, Magpale, Davide, and their local slate in Liloan held a political rally in Barangay Catarman on Friday in the guise of a distribution of honoraria. According to our barangay captains, many of our barangay frontliners could not attend because they were doing measles vaccination for kids, and others implementing previously scheduled health and peace and order programs. Why are they being punished for prioritizing their work for our communities over the political agenda of a few?” Frasco said in a text message to SunStar Cebu.
At the Capitol, Davide belied accusations that his administration was depriving non-supporters of the financial incentive program.
The Capitol gives financial aid to support the work of barangay workers who are in the frontline in the delivery of basic services.
Tanods receive P1,500 each while barangay health workers, day care workers, barangay nutrition scholars and animal health aide get P2,400 each. Lupons, on the other hand, get P1,500 each.
The governor's camp also received reports that those who failed to attend the cash distribution last Friday were prohibited from doing so.
“So, kinsa man ang namolitika ana (who is turning this thing into a political matter)?” Davide said.
Magpale, for her part, said financial incentives are taken from cash advance transactions, which require immediate liquidation before they can proceed with the distribution of honorarium in the next town.
“Og dili mahuman (If they don't finish with the distribution) on that day, dili sila maka-liquidate (they can't liquidate). The following day, we have to go to another town. Mao na nga lisod jud kaayo nga i-delay (That's why it's difficult to delay). We knew that they were there, so gi-announce ni Marian (personnel in-charge of distribution) nga kutob ra gyud karong adlawa (March 8) (announced that they would only distribute the honorarium that day) but those who followed us to (neighboring town) Consolacion got it. Dili masakripisyo ang ubang lungsod tungod lang sa kapricho nila nga silay namolitika (We can't sacrifice the barangay workers in the other towns because of some people who are politicking),” she said.