Makati councilors to shoulder staff's salaries after Peña's refusal to sign checks

Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The 17 city councilors of Makati City have agreed on Friday to shell out for the salaries of their staff for the periods of March 16 to 31, 2016 and again for April 1-15, 2015 after Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña refused to sign the needed checks.

According to Makati City councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy, the 17 city councilors have agreed in the meantime to provide financial assistance to their respective office staff members while their salaries remain on hold with Peña’s refusal to sign checks and payroll vouchers of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) covering salaries for March 16-31 and April 1-15, 2015.

Uy again repeated her appeal to Peña to sign the said documents so that some 82 regular coterminous SP employees would not be deprived of their salaries.

“The members of the City Council have agreed to provide temporary relief to our staff who are now burdened by the delay in the release of their salaries. Even though we, too, have not received our salaries, we cannot ignore their plight, as some of them already came to us crying while some even brought along their children to seek help,” Uy said.

Uy said the councilors will be giving each of their staff financial aid ranging from P3,000 to P5,000 “out of their own pockets” to help tide them over while waiting for their salaries to be released.

“Practically all of them rely on their salaries to pay household bills and buy basic necessities,” she said.

“We are appealing to Vice Mayor Peña to respect our employees’ right to receive their salaries on time. As frontline public servants of the Sanggunian, they have duly rendered their services and willfully denying them their wages is an injustice to them and their families,” Uy said.

Meanwhile, Uy also explained that the city councilors have not appointed a presiding officer among themselves to sign the checks and payrolls of the SP employees as suggested by Peña.

“We remain firm in our stand that the temporary restraining order issued by the court continues to prevail over the legal opinion on which the Vice Mayor (Peña) has been basing his actions. Makati has only one mayor, and that is Mayor Jun Binay,” she said.

“And to date, we still have one vice mayor, and that is Mr. Kid Peña. We still have 17 councilors, and Vice Mayor Peña is still the SP presiding officer, so there is no vacancy to fill up,” she said.

According to Uy, Peña as the vice mayor and presiding officer of the SP has already been absent for two consecutive sessions even as the City Council still has a number of pending ordinances and resolutions to attend to.

Under the Internal Rules and Procedures (IRP) of the city council, which Uy said were approved before the new city council assumed office in 2013, any member, including the presiding officer, if absent for three consecutive sessions can be fined and sanctioned.

The Court of Appeals has scheduled hearings next week on the petitions for certiorari on the suspension order and contempt charges filed by the Binay camp against Peña, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice.









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