BY PET MELLIZA
The cabal pushing to corner the P4,000 clothing allowance of each employee of the Iloilo provincial government (IPG) may have taken a retreat since this space unmasked their sinister plot with commentaries in the web and in The News Today, a daily in Iloilo City. But employees must not let down their guard. Vigilance is the word.
Superwoman, the mastermind who pushed for a single-contractor scheme, lied low a bit and confined herself in an infirmary after Gov. Arthur Defensor shot down her plot to hand the job over to her favourite contractor in Manila who promised to use imported fabrics for the uniforms.
I have been watching events by the wayside the past months but this time around, I can no longer stomach what I see. I have to speak my piece this time if I were to be true to my calling as public servant and as member of the press.
Raul Banias, provincial administrator and her co-conspirator, has his own scheme which is to put the clothing allowance onto the block for contractors to prey on, that is, for public bidding.
First off, he has put his foot on the wrong mouth in announcing that stupid plan which is as stupid as the incident headlined last Monday (January 17) when he egged Nereo Lujan, head of the community affairs office (CAO), to eject Marylou Sumbing from the public information office (PIO) that she heads. (I’ll comment on that in a separate column. But suffice it to say that Lujan committed that snafu on the encouragement of Banias and the Four Sirens of the Apocalypse, a pack of charlatans masquerading as consultants, a bunch of ignoramuses in their PhDs and four- or two-letter abbreviated titles preceding their first names. They are a mouth to feed, fattening themselves on a P40,000 monthly “consultancy fee” for doing nothing except concocting a full-fledge department that Lujan is supposed to head which does not exist in law).
Anyway, back to the clothing allowance brouhaha. Supposedly, that item in the budget, P8 million plus for the 2,000 plus provincial employees, is released in the first month of every year that happened in previous years which every employee received in full.
With the public auction scheme, the clothing allowance is to be withheld in payment to the winning contractor for the uniforms. Is that legal?
First off, clothing allowance is identical with “salary” in budgeting, that is, both fall in the same category as “personal services” (PS), which must be directly released to employees and not subject of public bidding.
It is different from maintenance, operations and equipment expenses (MOEE) that the law requires to be publicly bid.
Proponents to contract the clothing allowance shout themselves hoarse of their good intention to promote “public respect” for and “dignity” of Iloilo Province and its employees. They shed crocodile tears seeing employees “misspending” their (own) allowance for “anyform” instead of uniform.
Which is a misplaced speculation to intervene in something which is none of their business at all. Superwoman the mastermind even has the guts to brand employees who spend their clothing allowance on something else as “corrupt”. First off, how can one steal what is already his/her own?
Pardon this repetition but for the enlightening of Superwoman and her ilk, the issue here is employee’s morale and welfare, the rationale for the “clothing allowance” itself.
Otherwise, it would have been categorized as “uniform” without the “allowance” under the MOEE in the budget, and not under the PS.
Employees just prefer what the province has been doing for years, that is: release the clothing allowance directly to them and let them go to their favorite tailors to follow the design and materials agreed upon by the Iloilo Provincial Employees Association (IPGEA).