Loboc Mayor Leon Calipusan called Governor Art Yap’s distribution of souvenir checks for pictorials an “epal” move particularly amid the ban on mass gatherings that was imposed as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 which has driven hospitals in the province to near-full capacity.
“Unsa may tuyo sa atong gobernador? Ngano man, para magpa-picture lang g’yud sa mga BALA aron ingnon na siya gyuy nagpada og ayuda, kami nanghatag man pud mi og ayuda sa among mga BALA, health workers, wa man miy picture-picture kay dili mana atong kwarta,” said Loboc Mayor Leon Calipusan in an interview over station dyRD on Monday.
He added that pictorials and distribution of souvenir checks are also a waste of public funds.
Yap earlier drew heavy flak over social media after his staunch critic Makati-based businessman Willy Ramasola through Facebook alleged that the governor personally distributed commemorative checks to Loboc barangay livestock aides (BALA) who were hoping to get cash during a ceremony on August 3, 2021.
The Capitol has explained that the P-2,400 checks which had no actual value were handed out to BALAs as “remembrance” of the government’s honorarium of the same amount which was given to them in 2020.
According to Calipusan, Yap should just have left the checks at the town’s agriculture office and these could have been distributed by barangay officials during BALA meetings minimizing the need for non-essential gatherings.
Calipusan also hit the governor for allegedly flouting health safety protocols by personally leading gatherings to distribute aid and not wearing facemask during some of these events.
“Ekstrikto man kaha, ato pung sundon. Naa bitaw nakita nato na sigeng suroy-suroy ang gobernador way facemask, og kita pa siguro ana kiha na ta,” said Calipusan.
The mayor accused Yap of politicizing the distribution of financial aid saying that his office was not informed of the gatherings in his town but his political opposition who is not an incumbent official was present during the event.
In 2019, Calipusan was allied with former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. who ran against Yap in the gubernatorial election but lost by a slim margin.
In a press conference on Friday last week, Yap defended the distribution of the souvenir checks saying that BALAs wanted to meet him personally and thank him for the honorarium which was given to them way back in 2020 and relay their concerns.
“Sa anang mga events ato rang itunol nila ang ilang mga ID apan gusto nila mo tambong ug gusto nila na at least makigkita sa gobernador para magpasalamat ug gigamit napud nato ang kahigayunan na ihatag ang documentation ng ilahang mga cheke,” Yap said.
Office of the Provincial Veterinarian chief Bing Lapiz, in the same press conference, said the provincial government has allocated P3.4 million for the honorarium of BALAs in 2020.
Lapiz said it was the first time in 24 years that BALAs received an honorarium, which has long been sought by the workers.
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. (R. Tutas)