After weeks of intensely defending their stand to procure 14 brand new 4×4 pickup trucks for themselves, members of the Sangguniang Panalalawigan (SP) led by Vice Governor Rene Relampagos changed their tune and unanimously decided that they will still push through with the purchase but will instead let other provincial government offices use the vehicles.
The move to reallocate the vehicles which were supposed to be for Relampagos and the SP members was proposed by the vice governor himself and was approved by 12 of the 13 SP members during the legislative body’s regular session on Tuesday.
“I would like to propose to you my dear colleagues in the Sangguniang Panalalawigan na kining mga sakyanan na atong giplanuhan na paliton para unta gamiton sa mga sakop sa SP, ato ning ihatag sa tanang mga buhatan na nagkinahanglan,” Relampagos said.
All legislators, except for Board Member Elpidio Jala who was absent, voted in favor of the proposal, which was raised by Relampagos amid massive opposition against the procurement from the public due to the purchase’s perceived lack of sensitivity to the plight of those affected by the pandemic.
So far, only five legislators, Board Members Victor Balite, Elpidio Bonita, Jade Bautista, Lucille Lagunay and Mimi Maglasang specified which agency their allocated vehicles will go to.
The vehicles supposedly for Bautista, Maglasang and Lagunay will go to the Bohol Investment and Promotion Center(BIPC), Provincial Welfare and Development (OPSWD) and Provincial General Services Office (PGSO), respectively.
Meanwhile, Balite proposed to have his vehicle be used by the Provincial Health Office and Bonita said his will go to the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian.
However, it was unclear if the vehicles will still be acquired under the offices of the SP members or the recipient departments.
The resolution for the procurement earlier passed by the SP and the 2021 annual budget, in which funding for the purchase will be sourced, indicate that the vehicles are for the offices of the SP members and Relampagos.
Earlier, Relamapagos and several provincial lawmakers defended the purchase of the vehicles but their stand was met with heavy criticisms from the public due to its untimeliness.
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.
“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. (R. Tutas)