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Privilege speech delivered by Board Member Eunice U. Babalcon (Samar 2nd District) on the Mandamus Case court decision against former Gov. Milagrosa Tan
August 19, 2010 Sanggunian Panlalawigan Regular Session
Samar SP Session Hall

 

The Honorable Vice-Governor of this province, the Chairman of the legislative council, Mr. Majority Floor Leader, Members of this Honorable Council (composed of eleven gentlemen and one lady excluding myself) my esteemed colleagues, our friends from the tri-media, all the provincial employees of our local government, and to all those listening or observing our proceedings, my friends, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

Two days ago, I was informed of a good news by some of our friends here in the capitol. This was about the decision rendered by Honorable Judge Usman on a class suit for petition for mandamus filed by our employees against the previous local government chief.

Until the time that I was able read the entire decision, I have reserved my sentiment and my desire to speak before all of you today in our regular session. I told myself, I must be fully convinced that indeed there was already a decision signed by the Judge, and it had been promulgated to all parties concerned. Now, I can safely say, that, yes, there was already a decision and second, I presume, all contending parties have been duly notified through their respective counsels.

If this was not an important issue, I would not have spent hours writing the things I have in mind so I could deliver and share it with you today. Mr. Chair, honourable colleagues, indeed we live in interesting times where diversity is more common than uniformity, and where opinions are as important as our rights to be informed, and where doing what is right is just as difficult as denying to do what is right.

I am so elated, jubilant and happy to learn that the long-awaited bonus of our provincial employees can now be theirs to claim, any moment now. Mr. Chair, my colleagues, the legal battle that they fought was commendable and were it not for some concerned employees who took the courage to file the Mandamus case, this benefit would not have been possible at all it would only be a paper benefit. I commend them for their patience and endurance to be able to finish the case. Of course, it should also be noted that a former Vice-governor of Samar was the counsel who represented them in this case, none other than the very brilliant and competent and selfless, retired Judge Clemente Rosales.

Mr. Chair, fellow members of this Sanggunian, I want to tell you that for any person who has had experience in court litigation whether as counsel or merely a party, it is quite an achievement to be able to finish the case, and it is something more, when you win the case. That is why, I congratulate them especially those who had to spend their time and their own money just to religiously attend every court hearing. And now, this is the prize of the efforts you put forth in your fighting for what is deservingly yours.

Lest I forget it, Mr. Chair, my fellow servants of our people in Samar, I also commend the members of the previous board who strongly endorsed and submitted the passage of the controversial ordinance. I remember that even if we had divergent views on the 2009 and 2010 budget, all of us members of the last Sanggunian, we were one in this issue. We all agreed that the employees deserve to receive the 25 Thousand Productivity Enhancement Incentive no less. It was not conditioned upon anything, Mr. Chair, but simply for the reason that employees are part of the local government family and are the frontliners in the delivery of basic services. Despite our political differences during that time, we have quite achieved something, and I want to reiterate my profound commendation to my previous colleagues. In fact, those who endorsed the ordinance were members of the opposition and those who signed it were the administration allies since it was eventually passed during a session were most of the opposition board members were not around.

Clearly, this is a moment to rejoice for it is a victory to be shared by all of us.

Let me go to another point, Mr. Chair, my fellow members of this August body. I want to remind us all that it is time to honor our obligations under the law upon a clear understanding that what is asked of us to do is not just an obligation written under human laws but more importantly, a moral obligation as well. We can argue from all sides, but what remains to be seen is our sincerity to the people we want to serve and that of course, includes our fellow workers in the government.

Let us not argue of whether there is a budget or whether it is incorporated in the budget, but let us respect a pronouncement of the court whose judgment has been rendered based on facts availing and the law supporting such claim. Let us not argue which interpretation of the law is correct as this has already been passed upon by a court of competent jurisdiction. Let us not argue on the validity or legality of the ordinance as the same has already been decided upon on merits and law. Sabi nga sa isang Tagalog na wikain: Pag gusto maraming paraan, pag ayaw maraming dahilan. To this, we can put to end a battle which I think from the very start should not have even been waged at all.

I leave this as an appeal, and at the same time a challenge to the new governor to no longer appeal the case before the higher courts but give to our employees what they have long awaited for. We do not need to wait for a writ of execution coming from the court as the decision has been handed down already.

There is thus a deeper reason than the mere fact of granting the financial benefits due to our employees. To my mind, that is merely symbolical. That amount of money is simply a figure, an additional incentive that will soon be consumed and depleted through time. But what is more significant is our respect for our calling to uphold the law and honor our obligations under our mandate as servants of the people. We may have differences along the course of how we want to do our respective functions and duties, as this is the essence of democracy, but in the end, what cannot be ignored is the interest of the people.

Mr. Chairman, honourable members of the council, I wish to thank you for taking time to listen to my sentimental musings as I cannot help but voice out my joy for this triumph of our employees. Let this also be the beginning for them to realize that they are important for the functioning of our government as agents of the local government. Then, they can start by reviving their respect for their positions, no matter how insignificant they feel it to be, and thus, translate this newfound dedication to actions that will help propel us to progress, by serving our general clientele the people of Samar.

They have eagerly waited for this decision. God heard their prayers. It is time we transcend the boundary of political divide and heed the call of service and generosity. Ihatag ta an para ha ira. Damo nga salamat ngan maupay ngaaga ha aton ngatanan.  (Running time 0:08:01)

 

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