Provincial Board (PB) Member Ricky Masamayor defended the provincial government’s planned purchase of 14 brand new pickup trucks for members of the legislative body and its presiding officer Vice Governor Rene Relampagos, saying that their current eight-year-old service vehicles are costing more to maintain than to buy new ones.
Masamayor, in a government-paid radio program on Wednesday, said that service vehicles of seven PB members are no longer usable while the rest have questionable roadworthiness.
“Pito ka board member wala na intawon sakyanan. Pohon-pohon kaloy-an ta sa Ginoo, madayon na makapalit ta. Daghan ang mga way sakyanan, nangandoy pud silang magkasakyanan, kulang intawon ning mga nahibilin, hadlok [sakyan],” said Masamayor.
The lawmaker noted that he himself figured in two road accidents while using his government-owned vehicle.
In a separate interview with the Chronicle on Thursday, Masamayor said that the accidents were due to mechanical malfunction, not human error.
“Nawala ang brake, ug kadtong usa naay nahuso sa manobela…ngana man g’yud na og makaraan na maapektuhan ng mga puthaw, mabulok man g’yud na,” Masamayor said.
The pending purchase of the vehicles worth a total of P24 million has drawn flak from the public due to the persisting pandemic which has been pointed out to require more funding over the procurement of pickup trucks for government officials.
Senior PB Member Victor Balite on Wednesday also said that it is not yet the “right” time to purchase the vehicles as the province continues to grapple with the health crisis.
The procurement of the vehicles was initially approved by the PB through a resolution passed in February 2020 but was deferred when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out later in the year.
It is expected to push through this year after the Department of Interior and Local Government last week approved the purchase through the issuance of a Department Authority.
COVID -19 response
Masamayor said that the previous postponement of the purchase was due to unpreparedness in dealing with the sudden virus outbreak, particularly in its budgeting for 2020.
“Among gi defer kay wala man ta makapangandam sa gastuson, so tanan na savings sa provincial government atong gi defer, atong gi pondo para sa COVID,” he said.
In contrast, the provincial government was already able to allocate funds for COVID-19 response for 2021 including P100 million for the purchase of vaccines, he added.
The provincial government earlier confirmed that the P-100 million budget was being secured through a Supplemental Investment Plan (SIP), meaning it will be sourced through national government agencies, not the province’s coffers.
For his part, Relamapagos noted that they intend to purchase 4×4 pickup trucks for “practicality” considering the rough terrain in some areas of the province, particularly with the poor road conditions heading to far-flung barangays.
The new vehicles will replace the current 2012 Mitsubishi Strada provided for the use of the 13 PB members and the vice governor.
Both Masamayor and Relampagos noted that the initial budget for the procurement of vehicles was realigned to augment the province’s funding for COVID-19 response.
Balite, however, said that the budget was not used or realigned for pandemic-related expenses.
“Mura’g wa magamit, wa ko kadawat og mga report na nagamit to,” he said. (R. Tutas)