Friday, July 12, 2013

Not us, Bulacan clergy says of priests getting gov’t pay

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—The Diocese of Malolos disclaimed news reports that Bishop Jose Oliveros and priests of the diocese are receiving honoraria from the provincial government.

As this developed, actor turned politician Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando admitted that he had 20 of the reported 72 consultants, leaving 52 to Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado who remained mum as of press time.

Other provincial official defended the hiring of consultants at the Capitol saying that local government units are allowed to do so.

In a one page statement issued on Wednesday, the Diocese of Malolos said,” the Roman Catholic Church of Malolos, clarifies that the bishops and priests referred to in the aforementioned report are not the Roman Catholic Bishop of Malolos and not the Clergy of the Diocese of Malolos. The phrase “Bulacan bishops and priests” should not be understood as the Clergy of the Catholic Church in Bulacan.”

The said statement was signed by Father Dario Cabral, the chair of the Commission on Social Communications of the diocese.

Cabral said that they conducted their own investigation and it was found that bishops and priests who receive monthly honoraria from the Provincial Capitol came from different sects within the province of Bulacan.

In its statement, the diocese even identified a bishop from another sect, one Ephraim Perez, who “presents himself as the bishop of the Christian Catholic Church,” a small sect within Bulacan and became a consultant of the provincial jail.

Perez, the statement said “used to receive P20,000 to P25,000 a month.”

According to Cabral, if the clergy of the Diocese of Malolos engaged themselves in any way with the provincial government, it is in the “work of ministry.” 

“We do hereby disclaim the news that the Bishop of Malolos, Most. Rev. Jose F. Oliveros, D.D. and the clergy of Malolos receive honoraria from the provincial government of Bulacan,” the statement said.

For his part, Vice-Governor Fernando admitted that he had 20 out of the reported 72 consultants of the provincial government.

However, he clarified that those consultants which includes lawyers, and doctors are not his personal consultants, but of the entire sangguniang panlalawigan.

One of those identified by Fernando is former Vice-Gov. Aurelio Plamenco who is receiving P35,000 a month.

With regards to pastors and priests as consultants, Fernando said he did not have any, but also admitted that some pastors sought assistance from him.

He also clarified “love gifts” he handed to pastors are part of his earning as an actor noting that he recently became more active in filming independent films and teleseryes.

With regards to the length of services of consultants, Senior Board Member Michael Fermin clarified that they can be terminated anytime.

“They are contractual, and their services are only as long as they are needed,” Fermin said.

He also explained that local government units are allowed to hire consultants based on their experience and expertise.

Bu news stories citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report said that some consultants hired by the provincial government are high school graduates and do not possess educational qualifications and work experience required by their work assignments.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bulacan officials vows speedy implementation of projects

HAGONOY, Bulacan—Newly elected officials in the province vowed speedy implementation of project as they assumed office on Monday, July 1.

As this developed, hundreds of employees in different local government units are expected to lose their jobs in the coming days.

Mayor Raulito Manlapaz of this town vowed yesterday that he will construct a new public market within the year.

The new mayor’s declaration came after he assumed office yesterday, and an about three years since the public market was razed to ground in August 2010.

He also vowed to reopened the old municipal sport complex here that is now being used as a temporary market.

As the new mayor of this coastal town that produced  senator of the republic, two provincial governors and three congressional representatives, Manlapaz also vowed to rehabilitate the 100 hectare municipal fishpond whose dikes were washed away after its years of neglect.

He said that the said fishpond used to serve as a money maker for this town, but it was abandoned by its operator when the dikes started to deteriorate.

In Malolos City, reelected Mayor Christian Natividad vowed to fast tract the construction of the new city hall along with the rehabilitation of the Malolos City Public Market which was razed to ground in August last year.

In Bustos town, reelected Mayor Arnel Mendoza said they will update their old comprehensive land use plan which was first ratified over 10 years ago.

“We will also update our municipal development code to adapt to the  current conditions,” he said noting that construction of the Balagtas-Plaridel-Bustos by-pass road encouraged more investors in their town and hastened its development in the last two years.

In Guiguinto town, newly elected Mayor Ambrosio Cruz vowed to improve the garden and landscaping industry in his town through the development of proposed 50 hectare garden city and technopark on the eastern part of the town near the Balagtas-Plaridel-Bustos bypass road.

However,  Cruz said that he has to let go some employees odf the municipal government noting that before he assumed office yesterday, they found out that Guiguinto has at least P50-Million in budget deficit.

Mass lay-offs is also expected in other local government units in the province but newly elected mayors are trying to do it silently.

Most of the affected employees are that are under the job order category along with some casual employees.

In the provincial capitol, sources said that reelected Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado is also reviewing performances of employees.

The source said that such review could also lead to mass lay-offs. 

On Sunday, Alvarado vowed further development of Bulacan through the the Program on Rapid Industrialization and Development (PRIDE).

Alvarado also announced that construction of the one kilometer bridge of the Balagtas-Plaridel-Bustos bypass road will start within the year.

He said, “we will soon have the ground breaking for the bridge that will hasten the completion of the Balagtas Plaridel Bypass,” he said.

The said bypass road branched out of the northbound lane of the North Luzon Expressway and stretches to about 26 kilometers towards San Rafael town in the east.

The first phase of the project was completed and inaugurated early this year, which the second phase has been bidded out. (Dino Balabo)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bustos Dam overflows, disaster body allays flood fear

BUSTOS, Bulacan—Water elevation at major dams in Bulacan remained normal despite rains spawned by typhoon Gorio.

However, Bustos Dam here, an after-bay regulator dam of the bigger Angat Dam in Norzagaray town overflowed on Sunday.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) allayed fears of possible flooding in the wake of the overflow.

“Water elevation on the downstream of the Angat River remains low and it can accommodate water overflowing from the Bustos Dam,” said Liz Mungcal, head of the PDRRMO.

She added that water overflowing from the dam is minimal compared to water that rushed out of it when rubber gate of the dam collapsed.

Mungcal also said that for every opened rubber gate of the dam, at least 500 cubic meters of water is released downstream the Angat River that drains to Manila Bay.

Records showed that water elevation at Bustos Dam on Sunday climbed to 17.41 meters, breaching its spilling level of 15.35 meters.

In the bigger Angat Dam, water elevation only climbed to 185.04 meters above sea level (masl) on Sunday. It is way below its spilling level of 214 masl.

Records also showed that water elevation at the nearby Ipo Dam, which is also located in Norzagaray town is 100.7 masl or nearing its spilling level of 101 masl.

According to Mungcal, the overflow in Bustos Dam is normal saying that they are monitoring its level 24 hours a day.

As this developed, the PDRRMO reported that some areas in the province were flooded yesterday morning due to light to moderate rainfall brought by typhoon Gorio.

The report said that Barangays Bayugo, Longos and Zamora in Meycauayan City were inundated with one-foot deep flood waters.

In other coastal towns of the province like In Hagonoy, Obando and Bulakan, some villages were briefly flooded due to sea water rise aggravated by night long rain.