By By Fernan A. Gianan
Duterte’s P95-B veto to impact local elections
posted 5-May-2019  ·  
400 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

How President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the national budget for 2019 and his veto of P95 billion in project insertions will affect the upcoming May 13, 2019 national and local elections will be known this week.

Before the controversial budget was transmitted to Malacanang, the House reportedly deleted projects from the list approved by the bicameral conference committee and inserted their own separate list.

Already, there are unconfirmed reports of huge amounts slashed from the budgets of DPWH district offices in the mainland, which could spell danger to House representatives of the said districts.

It is of public knowledge that congressmen get anywhere from 3% to 8% of the infrastructure funding awarded to favored contractors in each district.

Under the advance procurement scheme, the DPWH district offices had already conducted the public bidding of the 2019 projects by December 2018, with the contracts to be awarded once the budget is signed. The wrangling between the Senate and the Lower House led to the nearly four-month delay in the budget’s approval.

Normally, bids are valid for only 120 days from the date of the opening of bids. Thus, if the bidding was conducted before December 2018, the bids would have expired.

However, under the ruling of the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) with respect to the DPWH early procurement, the bid validity remains valid for one month after the approval of the national budget.

But local contractors who won in the bidding last year, some of whom have already started work even without signed contracts, would have to wait until this week to verify if their projects were among those vetoed by the president.

Also hanging in the balance is the P200 million funding for Virac’s integrated transport terminal that was secured by former Mayor Flerida Antonio-Alberto from Malacanang. Which of the three mayoral bets will implement the project, if ever, is another big question that voters would answer.

*****

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported last week that 471 workers in the Bicol region were able to claim their monetary benefits in the amount of P8,009, 034 in the first quarter of 2019 through the Single Entry Approach (SeNA) that settled 391 out of 481 requests for assistance (RFA).

In Catanduanes, 21 workers were awarded a total of P295,289, DOLE regional director Alvin Villamor said.

The RFA filed by the Bicol workers involved complaints on illegal dismissal, non-payment and underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime, holiday, night shift differential, 13th month and separation pays, non-coverage to social protection benefits such as SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG; and unauthorized cash bond deductions.

The SeNA is DOLE’s banner program ensuring that all complaints first go through a 30-day mandatory conciliation and mediation period to exhaust possible means towards a fair settlement, before they are referred for arbitration.

RD Villamor also reported that during the same period, 3,599 workers in the region were regularized in the first quarter of 2019.

In the province, private companies which granted regular employment to its workers include the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc., with 61 workers regularized, and the Immaculate Heart Of Mary Hospital Inc., 60.

*****

THE RIDE TO THE MONASTERY. A monastery was perched high on an isolated cliff, and the only way to reach it was to ride in a basket which was hauled to the top by a team of monks,

The ride up was not for faint-hearted, and one visitor was looking exceedingly pale by the time he reached the summit. As he stepped trembling from the basket, he couldn’t help noticing that the rope was old and frayed.

“How often do you change that rope?” he asked one of the monks.

The monk thought for a moment, then replied, “Whenever it breaks.”


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