BACOLOD

Toboso village chief cries foul over 'uncooperative' council

THE Punong Barangay of Salamanca, Toboso is complaining about the alleged lack of cooperation of other barangay officials that led to the paralysis of their fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Acting Punong Barangay Angelito “Dodong” Casipong has expressed his fears over the welfare of his more than 5,000 constituents amid the threat of the dreaded Covid-19 virus in his barangay.

As the number one kagawad, Casipong was thrust into the position after PB Romeo Sultan was preventively suspended for six months by the Ombudsman in September for alleged anomalies in the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) funds in Salamanca.

More than 100 residents filed a complaint against Sultan. The Ombudsman found merit in the complaint and, in its order dated September 2, called for the suspension of Sultan. The order was served to Sultan in the third week of September. Casipong assumed office on September 22.

“Upon my assumption of the position, I called for a regular session where we reached a quorum. During that session, I requested the barangay treasurer to turn over all pertinent barangay documents and records so that I can be guided accordingly in the discharge of my functions, particularly, in the disbursement of funds,” Casipong said.

“Until now, the records have not been turned over to me. I have called for three special meetings and two regular sessions, but only one or two kagawads attended. Thus, we could not conduct official business because we cannot reach a quorum,” he said to the media.

Salamanca has seven regular kagawads and the Sangguniang Kabataan chair in the person of Jessa Pabalate. Normally, five kagawads will constitute a quorum. The elevation of Casipong to the PB position leaves only seven kagawads, with only four kagawads required to reach a quorum.

“Only one or two kagawads attended, so we cannot reach a quorum. Kagawads Letecia Mariquit, Primitivo Mahilum, Epifanio Casipong, Jr. and Precy Macasling, as well as SK chair Pabalate, did not attend the meetings and sessions I called for. They did not even sign to acknowledge their receipt of the notices of the meetings,” Casipong said.

He said when there was a person under monitoring for Covid in their barangay, he called for an emergency meeting to thresh out the barangay’s anti-Covid measures. However, there was no quorum.

When the patient turned out positive for the virus, Casipong called for another meeting of the barangay council, but still, there was no quorum.

“Instead of waiting for the decision of other barangay officials, I decided to go directly to the individual sitios in Salamanca. We formed community task forces in all the nine sitios to monitor the health conditions of the residents in their respective sitios, as well as the presence of persons coming from outside the barangay,” Casipong said.

Kagawad Eryl Baynosa lamented the lack of cooperation from their fellow barangay officials.

“This is not the time to play politics. For the sake of the health and well-being of our constituents, we call on the other kagawads to cooperate so that we can mobilize barangay funds for our anti-Covid campaign and for other needs of our barangay,” Baynosa said.

Since there had been no quorum on meetings called by Casipong, the barangay could not pass the needed resolutions for the change of signatories in the barangay’s bank account, denying Casipong access to barangay funds.

“We cannot access barangay funds in the fight against Covid. We cannot access barangay funds for the delivery of public services to our more than 5,000 constituents. We cannot access barangay funds to pay the honorarium of our 14 barangay tanods and 14 barangay health workers. We cannot access barangay funds for the honorarium of other barangay officials, including the kagawads,” Casipong further said.

He added he has already brought this matter to the attention of Toboso Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer Mariejo Cabalfin.

According to Casipong, Cabalfin verbally instructed him to disregard the previous transactions under Sulta and just proceed with the discharge of his duties as acting punong barangay.

Casipong requested Cabalfin to issue a written instruction to such effect. Casipong’s letter was received by the DILG Toboso Office on October 9, but there has been no reply yet.

“PB Romeo Sultan was suspended for alleged anomalies in the disbursement of SAP funds. I don’t want to follow in his footsteps in the disbursement of barangay funds without the necessary records and documents,” Casipong said.


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