The provincial government has allocated P3.4 million for the honorarium of Barangay Livestock Aides (BALA) in 2020, the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPV) said on Friday amid the controversial distribution of souvenir checks to the said volunteer workers.
OPV chief Bing Lapiz, during the Capitol’s weekly press briefing on Friday, said it was the first time in 24 years that BALAs received an honorarium, which has long been sought by the workers.
“Twenty four years na ang atong mga BALAs na nagserbisyo as volunteer para pag siguro sa na ang mga kahayupan sa atong mga kabarangayan himsog ug makapahatag og panginabuhian sa atong katawhan,” Lapiz said.
The statement was issued amid allegations that the provincial government only gave BALAs souvenir checks that could not be enchased.
According to Lapiz, the P-2,400 honorarium for 2020 was given through cash to some BALA members while others received it through their bank accounts. The amount was given to the members starting in August 2020.
BALAs in the first 18 recipient towns received their honorarium through their ATM accounts while workers in the remaining municipalities got their share in cash.
Lapiz said that the souvenir checks were belatedly distributed for BALAs to commemorate their receipt of the cash aid.
The official explained that BALAs need certification from their local government units (LGU) to prove that he or she is actively attending meetings and joining activities.
The honorarium recipient should have also completed the BALA training course and should submit monthly accomplishment reports.
“Tungod sa maong mga rekisito dili pud dali mahimo kay first time lagi, nabag-uhan atong mga BALA, unya ang uban dili pud ngana ka taas og kahibaw kay mga volunteer gani sila,” said Lapiz.
It was in 2019 when Yap decided to extend an honorarium to the BALAs after seeing the importance of their work when the African swine fever (ASF) threat emerged across the country.
“Sa dihang mibuto ang ASF permiro na panagtagbo ni governor ug sa BALA nakita niya na dako ang ilang trabaho ug gitubag ang ilang mga hanyo mahitungod sa incentive,” said Lapiz.
The controversy on the distribution of souvenir checks to BALAs erupted on Facebook earlier this week through a statement posted on Facebook by staunch Governor Art Yap critic Willy Ramasola who alleged that BALAs in Barangay Upper Bonbon, Loboc who hoped to get a cash honorarium were instead given the commemorative checks.
Ramasola said 28 BALAs who were initially told that they will be receiving aid personally from the governor were made to gather for a meeting led by the governor on August 3, 2021.
“Manghatag daw ug ayuda so naningkamot intawn ang mga taga barangay mo attend. Naay ni pakyaw pa ug habal habal ug nakagasto pag Php200,” Ramasola said.
“Manghatag sad kuno siya [Yap] ug mga tseke worth Php2,400 kada membro sa BALA. Before sila nanguli gipang hatagan silag ID na naay dakong mga dagway nila Yap ug Relampagos. Sus pag uli na nila excited na sila mo abre sa tagsa tagsa nilang sobre kay naa kunoy tseke lagi. Ana kay pag tan-aw nila kay souvenir check raman diay,” he added.
The issue drew further flak after the Capitol said that the P2,400 stated in the commemorative check, which was personally handed over to the BALAs by Yap on August 3, 2021, was already deposited in the recipients’ accounts in 2020, fueling questions on the need for the souvenir and for the governor to gather the BALAs in one place amid the pandemic.