THE P1,000 cash distributed during the recent Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB)-Iloilo City meeting at the City Hall was honorarium, not bribe, according to Councilor Reyland Hervias, LNB-Iloilo City president.
Hervias issued the clarification in an interview July 21, 2017, a day after photographs showing LNB members holding/receiving P1,000 bill inside the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s Session Hall were posted in social networking site Facebook by Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.
The photos elicited speculations that the monies were “bribes” given to the barangay captains by Panay Electric Company (PECO), whose representatives attended the meeting afternoon of July 20.
“Ang ginapanghatag to ya sa punong barangay, actually mga (LNB) Board of Directors to ya indi tanan nga barangay captain (sa city), good for two months (of honorarium) na to kay wala sila matagaan sa meeting namon sang last month. Ti, P500 man lang honorarium nila, kay ti gagasto man sila, gaplete man sila, naga-kaon man sila pakadto lang di, amo na siya ang natabo,” Hervias explained.
Hervias said PECO officials visited the offices of city councilors early this week to explain the firm’s ongoing and future projects and programs. But he was not in his office during said visits.
“Last time, nag-kadto diri ang PECO kag nag-bisita sa city officials to present their programs. Unfortunately, ako ya wala kay may meeting ako sa guwa, nagkadto ko kay (Councilor) Inday Lee Zulueta-Salazar galing manugtapos na, ti naghambal sa akon ang taga-PECO na makadto sa opisina kag ma-present sa akon. Ti hambal ko indi na lang, nga ‘if you want, sa amon nga Liga Board meeting kay ara pa gid ang Liga presidents, which ma-disseminate nila dayon sa kabarangayan’,” Hervias said.
“Bal-an mo mabisita man sila (PECO) sa mga barangay para mag-present ng program nila and then may dal-on sila nga action team, nga daw ang guwa, kun may problema ang barangay ma-aksyonan dayon nila kay may dala sila (nga team),” he said.
Hervias said he did not notice that a reporter of Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo was present in the meeting and took pictures without asking for details.
He said the pictures made it appear that PECO paid the Liga officers.
“Nang wala ko kabalo gani na ara ya ang isa ka reporter sang Aksyon, wala man gani siya naghambal kun pwede siya makasulod, maka-attend, pero ok man tani ina. Galing ang indi lang nami kay ti daw nag-panguha to sya sang picture nga wala man to siya namangkot no. Dayun gin-picturan nila to kag gin-post kundi kalaw-ay tanawon. Ang gin-paguwa nila ginbayad kuno sang PECO. Natingala man gani to guro ang PECO nga amo to ya, pati sila nadala sa kontrobersiya nga amo to,” he said.
Hervias said the Liga board of directors has 12 members. The P500 honorarium, which is sourced from the Liga Fund, is given to the directors after their board meeting.
He added that the distribution of honorarium was timed when PECO was the subject of controversies besetting its metering and billing system.
“At fault to ang staff ko. Kay nga-a usually amo gid man na s’ya na after sang session sa board may honorarium na to sila. Unfortunately, may PECO, which mainit na daan ang PECO subong, which gindala to nila sa issue,” he said.
PECO was discussed in the SP session on July 18 when Councilor Joshua Alim appealed to his colleagues to avoid amending the “Meter Reading Card System Ordinance” he authored.
The ordinance requires PECO to put up a meter reading card system to ensure that member-consumers can monitor their monthly power consumption.
Alim said he received reports of PECO officials visiting the offices of city councilors, except his, last July 17 to discuss a counter-proposal to the ordinance.
The ordinance was passed in response to complaints of alleged overbilling/overcharging of PECO.
But other city councilors were quick to clarify that PECO did not lobby for amendments to the meter reading card ordinance.
Councilor R Leone Gerochi, committee on utilities chairperson, said PECO representatives went to his office to present the firm’s projects and programs.
“But I told them to present to the public instead,” Gerochi said.
Councilor Salazar confirmed that PECO officials did visit her office not to lobby for anything but to present their programs.
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