Vice Governor Rene Relampagos cried foul over reports on his stand to support the controversial purchase of brand new vehicles worth P24 million for the Sannguniang Panlalawigan (SP) and himself claiming that his statements have been “taken out of context.”
“There have been articles published about me recently which have taken my words out of context to suit their own purposes and create a false narrative,” Relampagos said on Friday.
Relampagos however did not elaborate how his statement was taken out of context.
The vice governor’s sentiments were an apparent reaction to the Chronicle’s posting of his thoughts on the vehicle procurement in which he appeared to have contradicted himself in two separate interviews.
In a press briefing on March 30, 2021, Relampagos raised the need for the purchase of new pickup trucks as he aired concern over the road worthiness of the SP’s current vehicles which he said may compromise the safety of its passengers.
“Tungod sa kakaraan niining mga gipang gamit na service vehicles mura’g questionable na road worthiness niini ug sometimes posibli na ma compromise ang safety sa mga magsakay niini,” he said.
Relampagos had also noted that the vehicles, Mistsubishi Stradas, were nearly costing more to maintain than to buy new ones.
The vehicles cost P15 million when these were bought in 2012 and had accumulated maintenance expenses worth P11 million from the time of purchase until 2020, he added.
In a radio interview on April 15, 2021, however, the veteran politician said that the vehicles were still serviceable, or in working condition, and may still be used by other government agencies.
He did not indicate if the province will stop paying for the ballooning maintenance expenses of the vehicles once these will be turned over from the SP to other Capitol offices.
“Kanang tanan na sakyanan under the Sangguniang Panlalawigan categorized ni tanan ug classified ni tanan na serviceable pa ni, meaning to say magamit pa. Only every now and then dili nato kalikayan na mo bog down tungod sa wear and tear niini ug kakaraan. Mao lagi na ang ubang mga buhatan mo ingon na kami ray bahala ana magamit ug mapahimuslan pa na namo,” he said in the live radio interview.
In the same radio segment, Relampagos also downplayed the public’s uproar against the purchase of the vehicles saying that this was fueled by political agenda.
“Laktod pagka storya, politika ra ni tanan. Makita nimo sa thread ani nilang mga nang react sa social media, makita man nato na halos pare-pareho ra mang mga tawhana,” he added.
Relampagos, and most of the SP which is dominated by his political allies have been firmly defending the purchase of the vehicles.
The vice governor has justified the vehicle procurement by highlighting that the Provincial Government of Bohol allocated nearly P600 million for COVID-19 response for 2020 to 2021.
He also claimed that the province allocated P100 million for the purchase of vaccines.
However, it was earlier clarified by Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Pioquinto that the budget for the vaccine procurement will be sourced from national government agencies, not entirely from the provincial government’s coffers.
Pioquinto said that the amount was earmarked through a Supplemental Investment Plan (SIP).
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that the SIP, or the P100 million would come out straight from the provincial government, kay basta SIP from other sources na, so pwedeng national government agencies,” Pioquinto said in an earlier interview.
“Even with national government agencies, og mo request ta og funding, ilaha g’yud ng requirement na ma apil na siya sa SIP as duly approved by the Provincial Development Council,” she added.
Delicadeza amid pandemic
While Relampagos and the SP have repeatedly brandished the province’s war chest in battling the pandemic, the clamor to defer the procurement has been driven by the perceived lack of delicadeza considering that the purchase is being carried out in a time when thousands have lost their jobs and livelihood due to the pandemic.
Public ire against the procurement appeared to have also been unanimous based on over a thousand comments in the Chronicle’s series of post on the issue with virtually no one airing support for the purchase.
“Shame on you Vice-Gov Rene Relampagos and the rest of the SP who voted YES for it! Think of the Boholanos welfare sa especially karon na naa ta sa pandemic. Not for your own interest only! Unta di na mo manaog sa election sunod mga selfish. Inyo pa lang na gi address in dealing the pandemic situation in Bohol which is getting worst nowadays mas malipay ug mapahimuslan pa. Mauwaw unta mo sa mga Bol-anon,” said netizen Fhilrod Bigcas Morales II.
“Bisan pa ug unsaon pagExplain.. Untimely, ang pagpalit sa mga sakyanan…Thankyou SIR Balite, for adhering to the voices of ordinary voters,” said Lenons Agas in an apparent reference to Board Member Victor Balite, the lone SP member who has voiced opposition against the acquisition.
“The audacity of these trapos to purchase vehicles especially in these times? May i remind you that the money you trapos are using are NOT yours ok?,” said Antoinette Rapadas.
“I salute BM Victor Balite..ang nipis og nawong nakasabot ang naa sa dughan ng bol anon ..kini si rene pinakabaga og nawong mo estorya.. kaingon bako..public servant og unsay gusto ng mga ordinary bol anon siyay masunod pero king baga og nawong ipogus jud Nija ag sakyanan paliton..naniguwang kana sa politico wakay kaugalingon sakyanan. Estoryahe,” said Joseph Cadorna.