Clad in black shirts, several job order (JO) workers of the Isabela municipal government trooped to the town’s administrative building on Wednesday, February 16, to protest against their unpaid salaries for almost two months because “gutom na kami (we’re already hungry).”
This came after the Sangguniang Bayan members failed to approve the town’s 2022 annual general budget, which affected the operations of the municipal government, including the release of salaries to around 440 JO workers.
Currently, the town is running on a reenacted budget, Mayor Irene Montilla said, adding that they are “having difficulty” implementing programs.
The non-approval of the annual budget means that the SB members cannot tackle any other proposed resolutions during their regular sessions until they approve the 2022 budget appropriation, the mayor said, citing the pending urgent proposals such as the construction of an evacuation center and hiring of consultants.
Aside from the non-release of the salaries of the JOs, the municipal government also “cannot touch” its 20 percent development fund, which included projects for the barangays, the mayor said.
Vice Mayor Renato Malabor Jr. explained that the executive branch still has to accomplish several documentary requirements, such as the list of JOs contracts.
The council is asking for copies of the contracts to “counter check” the proposal, which is P19 million, the vice mayor said.
Montilla said the executive branch submitted the proposed budget on Oct. 15, 2021.
“The other documents they’re asking for have nothing to do with the budget. They want to audit. They’re not auditors, they’re legislators,” she said.
She also said the SB keeps on calling for committee hearings, “they keep repeating the same thing. The whole delaying process. It’s like they can hold hostage our budget and require us to bend over for them. That’s not any more fair, It’s obviously politics. Practically malicious.”*