IN HIS bid to “normalize the situation” in Compostela, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 Director Pedro Noval faces a myriad of woes as the northern town’s acting mayor.
On top of the list is the town’s unpaid electric bills, which amount to P1 million.
“The first issue we discussed earlier, during my meeting with the bara-ngay chairmen, is the non-payment of electrical expenses by the previous administration. Naningil na ang Cebeco (Cebu Electric Cooperative) nga kina-hanglan gyud bayran (Cebeco said it needed to collect payment) so I consulted the treasurer. Ni-ingon ang treasurer nga wa pa gyud kwarta para ana (but the treasurer said the town doesn’t have money for that purpose),” said Noval in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.
The treasurer told Noval the budget allocated by the previous administration for electrical expenses was not sufficient to pay for the town’s monthly consumption. The unpaid balance accumulated through the years, until it reached P1 million.
Noval also found out that two checks for the payment of electricity bills for two months were not released last year.
To remedy the problem, he and the town’s barangay chief executives drafted a resolution limiting the use of electricity in areas that do not require much power.
“Sa street lighting, duna’y mga dapit nga dili pasigaan kay aron mamenus na ang konsumo matag bulan (We will have to limit street lighting). I will let the barangay captains identify the areas to be lighted,” he said.
Barangays that can afford to pay for their own electric bills will do so, while those that can’t will be assisted by the Municipal Government, Noval said.
He refused to comment on whether the outstanding debts were caused by the previous administration.
Another problem he needs to address is the town’s garbage collection.
Although the town has two garbage trucks, it only has one driver.
He said he sought assistance from the barangay captains and got a positive feedback from the Poblacion’s captain, Richel Wagas, who is a sister of Richie Wagas.
Richel told Noval she will assign one driver from her barangay to the town.
They have set a garbage collection schedule for every barangay, Noval said.
As to the delivery of services in the Municipal Hall, he told Sun.Star Cebu all offices have resumed operations.
Noval met twice the town’s barangay captains to consult them about their problems and draw up plans for the upcoming town fiesta. He said they have lined up fiesta activities from July 15 to July 25.
The Compostela acting mayor earlier met with department heads so he could be briefed on the status and problems of their offices. He said the heads have yet to submit their assessments of their offices.
Meanwhile, the Municipal Engineer’s Office only resumed operation yesterday. Jojie Ann Watin, draftsman III, told Sun.Star Cebu only a few had reported to work.
“People, perhaps, think operations in the Municipal Hall have not resumed yet because Compostela still makes headlines in the news,” she said.
Noval said he will not prevent mayor-elect Joel Quiño from entering the legislative building again but the latter will have to sign the logbook first.
“We have adopted the measure that I will know who are the people entering and going out of the building. We will not allow people to stay and do nothing inside the building,” he said.
Although he has reported Quiño’s defiance to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the commission has yet to act on the matter.
Asked about Quiño’s plan to file for a restraining order against his taking over as the town’s caretaker, Noval said he will not prevent him from doing so. “It is his right,” he said.
“But pending upon all the legal remedies they have availed themselves of, I will sit here,” he said. “I want to normalize the situation in Compostela and I have to sustain our efforts and momentum in normalizing the situation of the town.”
Quiño reportedly told his supporters last Wednesday he will be in Manila starting yesterday to follow up on the motion for reconsideration he filed before the Comelec 2nd division.
Noval also said the DILG will not recognize the resolutions drafted by the Municipal Council, whose eight members were disallowed by the Comelec from assuming office, along with Quiño.
“As of this time, I don’t need the action of legislative because, as far as disbursement is concerned, I’m using the reenacted budget. The budget has already been passed from previous years,” he said.
As far as the orders given to him are concerned, he said he cannot hire or fire employees at the town hall. Casual employees, however, ended their service last June 30, since they were “coterminous with their appointing authority.”
Noval said he has no idea how long his stint as acting mayor will last, but he will remain in the post until ordered otherwise.
He said his duties in the DILG are not being compromised because he divides his day between his duties in Compostela and his duties in the department.
He is Compostela’s acting mayor in the morning and DILG’s regional director in the afternoon.
“If there are important decisions to be made, I’m just a phone call away,” he said.
When he leaves the Municipal Hall, local government operations officers run the mayor’s office. (RSB)