Binay vows wages for village execs
PAGBILAO, Quezon—Vice President Jejomar Binay is now courting the votes of the over two million barangay officials across the country as he prepares for his presidential run in 2016.
On Saturday, during a visit to this town 141 kilometers south of Manila, Binay vowed that once elected president, he would turn all barangay officials into salaried government employees.
“This I promise if the present administration will not acton this,” Binay told the assembly of Pagbilao barangay officials in a program held at the public market.
The village officials responded to Binay’s declaration with shouts of approval and applause.
Binay said he pitied the barangay officials across the country who only received monthly allowances and honoraria even if they served practically full time in their respective villages.
At present, compensation for village officials ranges from P1,000 to P10,000 a month, with the barangay chair and councilors getting a little more than the barangay health workers, barangay tanod (watchmen and members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa (peace and order council).
Binay said barangay officials should have a regular salary like any other government employee, with all the attendant benefits granted to state workers and retirement pay from the Government Service Insurance System.
“If you’re a salaried employee you will be formally recognized as a government official,” Binay told the assembly.
Binay arrived here at 9:30 a.m. with former Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and now a staunch Binay supporter, and Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian.
Suarez, former House minority leader, recalled that he authored the Barangay Pension Bill in the 15th Congress, which would have granted a retirement benefit of P75,000 to barangay officials who had served for 25 years.
The bill, which sought to set aside one percent from the Internal Revenue Allotment of local governments to pay for the benefits of both elected and appointed village officials, was approved by the House of Representatives and given the corresponding allocation of P5 billion.
However, the proposed legislation was shot down in the Senate by senators identified with the administration, according to Suarez.
Suarez’s wife Aleta, who now represents the province’s third district, has refiled the barangay retirement fund bill.
During his Pagbilao visit, Binay was also joined by Quezon Gov. David Suarez, the son of Danilo and Aleta; municipal officials led by Mayor Shierre Ann Portes-Palicpic, and other provincial officials, senior citizens, local members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity of which Binay is a member, and market vendors.
From Pagbilao, Binay motored to neighboring Tayabas City and the towns of Sampaloc and Lucban. He was expected to spend Saturday night in the sprawling Suarez seaside mansion in Unisan town.
On Sunday, Binay is scheduled to visit the towns of San Andres, San Narciso and Buenavista in the Bondoc Peninsula accompanied by Rep. Aleta Suarez.
Binay arrived in the province on Friday, Independence Day, and led in the inauguration of the new government-owned Claro M. Recto Memorial in Infanta town.
On Friday, Binay promised the residents of Polilio Island here that if elected president, he would go after government officials involved in graft and corruption based on strong evidence. He said he would not be vindictive.
But he appealed for a fair trial for Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, who are facing plunder and graft charges in connection with the alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Binay himself is facing a string of corruption allegations, among them, the alleged overprice of the Makati City Hall Building II.
In previous interviews, Binay stressed the importance of establishing strong evidence before filing a case against an official.
“Before we speak about jailing an accused or not, let us look first into the evidence. You cannot just charge them while you are still looking for evidence,” he said.
Binay said the case of the three jailed senators will “test if the drive for reforms will be blind to political motives.”
“If it stops with the filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies and confines itself to the [Janet] Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship—not justice—is the sole motivation behind these charges,” he said.
He noted that a year after the first two of three batches of PDAF cases were filed, the Department of Justice had yet to file charges against other lawmakers and individuals involved in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Originally posted: 03:44 PM June 13th, 2015
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