Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, April 18, 2005

With zero budget, Zambales vice gov appeals for funds

The nine-month-old rift between Zambales Gov. Vicente Magsaysay and Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain is now apparently taking its toll on their constituents.

With zero budget allocation this year for his office, Lacbain appealed yesterday to the private sector and the national government to help him raise funds to enable him to continue supporting indigent scholars and his other projects.

Lacbain said he helped set up the Zambales War Against Poverty Foundation Inc. (ZWAP) to raise funds for short-term vocational and technical courses for indigents at the Paaralang Tersaryo ng Pilipinas in San Marcelino town.

The executive committee of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines (LVGP), headed by Bohol Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera, earlier asked President Arroyo to investigate the allegedly anomalous budget allocations of the Zambales provincial government this year.

The league also brought the issue to the attention of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP). There has been no action on its appeals though.

"Without funding for my office, my only recourse is to raise funds through the foundation so I can still perform my public service mandate," Lacbain said.

"Through the foundation, I can still push through not only with my scholarship plans for indigents, but also with my dental-medical missions, livelihood trainings and other programs to help the poor," he added.

Lacbain accused Magsaysay of unduly intervening in the provincial budget allocations for 2005, totally scrapping the budget for the vice governor’s office and transferring a large chunk earmarked for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to the governor’s office.

Last year, the office of the vice governor, who presides over the provincial board, had a budget of P3.3 million.

Lacbain said his rift with Magsaysay started last year when they differed on whom to support as the next chairman of the Subic Bay Development Authority (BCDA) since then chairman Felicito Payumo’s term was set to expire.

He said Magsaysay also resented his opposition to plans to reorganize the provincial government by laying off 165 casual employees.

Lacbain said the lack of budget has "crippled" his office, adding that 59 percent or about P17 million of the provincial board’s usual budget allocation is now under the control of Magsaysay whose office now has about P95 million.

"Even the usual allocation of P1.52 million for the travel and training expenses of the provincial board members is now under the governor’s office so Magsaysay now signs the vouchers and checks every time they travel, contrary to the provisions of the Local Government Code which assigns such authority to the vice governor as the board’s presiding officer," he said.

"Despite the lack of funds for my office, I am committed to mobilize funds from the national government and the private sector through the ZWAP Foundation. I am appealing to successful and financially capable Zambaleños to help me," he said.

Lacbain has filed criminal and administrative charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against provincial board secretary Kathyrine Fan whom he accused of anomalously obeying Magsaysay’s order to sidestep him in preparing the 2005 budget which the board approved in his absence last Sept. 20.

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