Vice Governor Rene Relampagos on Tuesday emphatically defended Governor Art Yap and distanced the chief executive from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s (SP) controversial purchase of 14 service vehicles worth P24 million amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let me make clear on this matter. This sentiment, this plan to buy service vehicles for the SP, the governor of Bohol, Governor Art Yap has nothing to do with this. Way labot ang gobernador mao ng ayaw ninyo basula ang gobernador kining sa pagpamalit og sakyanan,” an irate Relampagos said during the SP’s regular session.
Relampagos, amid criticisms from the public on the timing of the purchase, said it was the SP which saw the need for the procurement of the brand new vehicles and that Yap has nothing to do with it.
“Way labot ang gobernador although the media would like to project it that there is. This is a sentiment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” he added.
However, the pending procurement of the vehicles was approved by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in March though the request of Yap.
“This refers to your request for a Department Authority to purchase 14 units pick-up type vehicle for the official use of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, that province,” the DILG said in the Department Authority dated March 9, 2021.
The Capitol has repeatedly defended the planned purchase by citing the DILG’s approval saying that they could not proceed with the procurement without it.
Meanwile, the purchase will also be funded through the 2021 annual budget, which was approved by the SP and signed by Yap for it to be enacted.
While Relampagos shielded Yap from flak drawn by the planned purchase, the governor has also kept mum on the issue.
In the same SP session, the SP through the proposal of Relampagos verbally agreed to proceed with the purchase but instead have the vehicles assigned for usage of government agencies under the provincial government, and not the legislative body.
The move came amid massive opposition from the public against the procurement for its perceived lack of sensitivity to the plight of those affected by the pandemic.
All but one board member, Elpidio Jala who was not present during the session, agreed to have the vehicles be used by provincial government agencies.
Jala said he will not approve of the purchase if a vehicle will not be assigned under his office as earlier agreed upon by the SP.
So far, seven board members have decided which Capitol office will receive their vehicles.
- Senior BM Victor Balite – Prov’l Health Office
- BM Lucille Lagunay – Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office
- BM Mimi Boniel – General Services Office
- BM Jade Bautista – Bohol Investment Promotions Center
- BM Elpidio Bonita – Office of the Provincial Veterinarian
- BM Romulo Cepedoza – Bohol Environment and Management Office
- BM Restituto Auxtero – Garcia Memorial Provincial Hospital in Talibon
BM Ricky Masamayor, BM Victor Bolos II, BM Franz Garcia-Devenosa, ex-officio members Philippine Council League president Jescelo Adiong and Sangguniang Kabatan presdient Victor Bolos II have not replied when asked by the Chronicle where their vehicles will be assigned.
Meanwhile, BM Aldner Damalerio said he will leave it to the vice governor to decide which office will receive his vehicle.
The planned purchase of vehicles for the offices of the lawmakers and the vice governor has drawn heavy flak from the public due to the timing of the procurement amid the pandemic which has led to an economic slump and loss of livelihood.
Previous news articles posted by the Chronicle on the issue have drawn thousands of comments with netizens united in denouncing the move for its insensitivity to the plight of those affected by the pandemic.
“This is clearly a fact that most in politics uses it’s power to shovel the money of the people and dig us more to poverty. So sad that we have them in our province,” said Maricar Juezan.
“24 million pesos pra sa ilang sakyanan samtang ang mga bolanon gakamalisod ky wa nay ipalit pagkaon ky perting mahala nawad an pag mga trabaho tungod sa pandemic,” Rain Felicity said.
“Sad, they already have the privileges, allowances and incentives (free amd sagot sa govt) that they can use if mobilization lamg gani hisgutan. I don’t think apil sakyanan na worth millions then tagsa pajud. Especially pandemic, nga gi bawal ang too much movements sa mga tawo ug mostly zoom meetings na ang mode of communication apil sa govt. Ginagmay nalang ang face to face na mudung jd sila id the there’s a need gyud. So para asa pa man ang sakyanan,” said Charmaine Tac-an.
“PUBLIC SERVICE – Ang public mao mupalit sa ilang service. Yahaya,” added Dex Bolit.