THE Makati City government said Wednesday 8,000 city hall officials and employees had started receiving their salaries for the period March 16 to 31 as the leadership dispute between Mayor Junjun Binay and Vice Mayor Romulo Peña Jr. entered its second week.
But the release of the salaries and allowances of 17 city councilors and 83 regular personnel of the city council for the same period was put on hold following Peña’s refusal to sign their checks so those could be cashed.
The Ombudsman suspended Binay over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II and replaced him with Peña, but the Court of Appeals has stopped the Ombudsman from suspending him.
Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy said the officials and employees affected by the leadership dispute at city hall might be in for a long wait because Peña had also returned unsigned the payrolls for their salaries for April 1 to 15.
As vice mayor, Peña signs the payrolls and checks for the city councilors and their staff.
“We appeal to Vice Mayor Peña to consider the welfare of the employees,”Uy said.
“Why is he doing this when all along he has been saying he will not hamper the release of salaries to City Hall employees?”
All the incumbent councilors ran and won under Binay’s political party in the 2013 midterm polls.
Some employees under the Sangguniang Panlungsod also expressed dismay over the indefinite delay in their salaries. They said aside from the coming Lenten break next week, many of them had children graduating at the end of this month and in April.
“We are saddened that even our families are suffering because of the situation at City Hall. This is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, especially for parents like me whose children are about to graduate,” said Mila Pilar, one of the affected employees.
“We are hoping that the vice mayor will be enlightened soon so that our families need not suffer much longer from financial difficulties caused by the delay in the release of our salaries.”
Peña has returned unsigned two checks to the Treasury Department, one amounting to P927,545.20 for the salaries and allowances of councilors and staff, and the other for P144,500 in allowances for councilors.
Peña also refused to sign the payroll for the salaries of officials and personnel covering April 1 to April 15, which amounts to P620,410.90.
Meanwhile, Mayor Binay rejected Pena’s offer for them to sit down and discuss the issue about the employees’ salaries.
He said there was nothing to talk about because it was normal and business as usual in city hall, adding that more than 8,000 city hall employees had started receiving their March 31 salaries.
Binay also said he had already signed all the vouchers for the next payroll.
“Walang pag-uusapan dahil makakasweldo yung employees. We’re acting normal here. Tuloy-tuloy ang trabaho. Wala namang sinasabi yung Land Bank na hindi i-honor ang signature ko,” Binay said.
“I was never removed as the mayor of the city. Nothing new. What we did is to reiterate to Land Bank through my letter that I was given the Temporary Restraining Order by the Court of Appeals. So it is a form of guidance for them to have that information, that no changes should be made.”
Binay said they were trying to bring back the normal status in city hall in the presence of the police personnel from the Southern Police District and with the insistence of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II to designate Peña as acting mayor.
Binay’s camp also rejected Peña’s claim that city treasurer Nelia Barlis had been suspended.
“The city treasurer is under the Department of Finance, so her suspension has to be served by the DOF. While treasurer Barlis has been suspended, the order has not been implemented by the DOF,” said Joey Salgado, city chief information officer.
“She’s still performing her functions and again, only in the case of a permanent vacancy will the DOF appoint a new treasurer. But her suspension is only a temporary vacancy, temporary in nature.”
Binay’s camp is also confident in the merit of their case when they filed a petition for certiorary contesting the six-month suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
Peña, who was recognized by the DILG and the Office of Ombudsman as acting mayor, said the Land Bank of the Philippines will honor his signature in connection with the city’s bank transactions.
“Since I’m the one who has the authority to sign for the Land Bank, I can give way to sign. Just prepare the voucher, then I will sign it,” he said.