Peña to Binay: Let's talk to settle salary issue
MANILA, Philippines – With payday just a few days away, the ongoing leadership confusion in Makati has become a pressing concern for city hall employees who are unsure about who will sign their paychecks.
On Tuesday, March 24, Makati Vice Mayor Romulo Peña once again called on Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay to a discussion, if only to settle who should sign the documents for the release of salaries.
The signature of the Makati mayor is needed before the Land Bank of the Philippines, the city government's depository bank, releases funds for the salaries of the local government's 8,000 employees.
But the two officials are both claiming to be the city's leader.
Peña has said that he has the authority to sign cash vouchers for the city, because he is recognized by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Ombudsman as the acting mayor of Makati following Binay's suspension last week.
Binay, however, has contested this, citing the court order stopping the suspension that he obtained just about a couple of hours after Peña's oathtaking.
Last week, several city hall employees expressed their dismay about the possibility of a delayed release in their salaries, and blamed the DILG for the confusion in the city.
"The DILG has clearly overstepped its bounds, to the detriment of city government employees and our families. Because of its recent actions, we now face the bleak prospect of going hungry and bereft of basic necessities should there be delays in the release of our salaries,” they said in a statement.
But in a speech to his supporters after the flag raising ceremony on Monday, Peña assured city hall employees that their salaries won't be affected by the political tension in the city.
He made the statement despite earlier pronouncements from councilors and department heads refusing to recognize Peña as acting mayor.
Peña, however, has already started to hold office on the second floor of the old city hall building. He also said that he has requested the Department of Finance to assign a new city treasurer.
“We are hoping that in the soonest possible time, the Department of Finance will give us our new city treasurer which will be under the guidance of yours truly," Peña said.
'No need to talk'
In an interview with DZMM on Monday, Peña said there would be "nothing to gain" if he and Binay did not sit down to discuss how to settle the salary issue.
"Bakit di kami mag-usap, para maitawid lang ang s'weldo sa katapusan?" he said. (Why don't we talk, so that we could settle the salary release for the end of the month?)
Asked on DZMM if he was willing to let Binay sign the vouchers for now, just to ensure the timely release of the funds, Peña replied, "Ang pagpayag, depende sa aming pag-uusap." (My willingness depends on our discussion.)
Binay, however, has said that there was "no need to talk" about the leadership feud.
"Walang dapat pag-usapan dahil mayroon nang kautusan ang Court of Appeals," he said. (There's nothing to discuss because there's already an order from the Court of Appeals.)
Binay also repeated his call to DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas II to respect the court's order stopping his (Binay's) suspension.
"Ang pakiusap ko kay Secretary Roxas ay kilalanin ang naging kautusan ng Court of Appeals. Simple po ito, walang dapat pag-usapan dito. Ang kailangan natin dito sundin kung ano ang nasasaad ng batas, at naging desisyon ng CA," he added.
(My appeal to Secretary Roxas is to recognize the order of the Court of Appeals. It's simple, there's nothing to discuss here. What's needed is to follow to law and the decision of the CA.)
Binay spokesman Joey Salgado, meanwhile, said that the payrolls are prepared two weeks in advance, and that he was confident that Land Bank would honor "existing arrangements" with the city government.
The DILG earlier wrote to the Land Bank notifying them of Binay's suspension and requesting bank officials to recognize Peña as acting mayor.
The Binay camp hit the DILG's move, saying it was beyond the agency's mandate.
“The DILG does not have the authority to represent the city government so why is it issuing such notices? That is already going beyond the mandate given to them by the Ombudsman, which is to serve the suspension order,” Salgado said.
While Binay said he was confident that Land Bank will recognize his signature, he added that he is still waiting for the court's ruling.
If Land Bank decided to honor Peña's signature, Binay said that it would be a "questionable action."
The CA is set to hold hearings on Binay's case on March 30 and 31.
The Makati mayor had been ordered suspended for 6 months by the Ombudsman over allegations of irregularities in a contract related to the construction of a Makati city building. – Rappler.com