GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia wants to give Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. a copy of the Local Government Code so there will be no confusion in their job descriptions.

This, following Sanchez’s filing of a petition for mandamus, prohibition and damages against Garcia and other Capitol officials, in a bid to retain nine consultants of the Office of the Vice Governor.

But Garcia said she wondered why Sanchez is questioning her non-renewal of his consultants when she has authority to do so. She showed reporters copies of the previous contracts of Sanchez’s consultants, which she signed.

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Citing the Local Government Code, Garcia said that as governor, she has the authority to “represent the Province in all its business transactions and sign in its behalf all bonds, contracts and obligations, and such other documents upon authority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or pursuant to law or ordinance.”

Sanchez, in his petition, has stated: “Under the law, the governor was not supposed to enter into such consultancy contract of services affecting matters of legislative concern as this authority is vested with the vice governor.”

He asked the court for a writ of mandamus, which compels a government official to perform an act required by law.

Garcia explained the vice governor’s argument is limited to operations involving the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, where the vice governor is the presiding officer.

Garcia was flanked by some department heads—Provincial Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon, Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla and Provincial Agriculturist Necias Vicoy Jr.—in a press conference where she answered questions about Sanchez’s case.

Gingoyon pointed out the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is separate from the Office of the Vice Governor, as shown in the Annual Investment Plan where both units have separate operating budgets.

Martinquilla explained the appointing power of the vice governor is limited to officials and employees whose salaries are paid using funds appropriated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. In the case of the subject consultants, they get their salaries under the Office of the Vice Governor.

Attacks

Garcia further explained she chose not to renew the contracts of the consultants because their jobs only parrot those of existing offices of the Provincial Government.

Garcia also alleged that in the case of organic farming consultant Manuel T. Manuel, she received feedback that the consultant also hosts a radio show where he attacks the organic farming program of Capitol, while endorsing a liquid fertilizer product of Sanchez’s company Lacto Pafi.

“At the time he was being paid by the Provincial Government on a monthly basis (P15,000 per month), he was attacking the Provincial Government,” said Garcia.

Despite undergoing a training-seminar on an organic farming method that uses the liquid fertilizer the vice governor’s company sells, Capitol did not buy the product.

Vicoy said Capitol gets free fertilizer and can buy these, if the Province wishes, at cheaper prices.

Garcia said it is more prudent to choose the cheaper product to maximize the profits of farmers.

Interests

Besides, she said Sanchez could have been held liable had Capitol bought his fertilizer for the organic farming program, because public servants “should not be involved in activities for their own pecuniary interests.”

Garcia said she chose to renew the contracts of Sanchez’s consultants the past years because then, she delegated some tasks to the vice governor.

She decided last January not to renew the contracts of consultants Manuel, Oliveros Kintanar (legal), Edgar Godinez (trade and investments), Edgar Sibonga (infrastructure), Leo Atap (data programming and development), and Sophela Ignacio (livelihood administration). (JGA)