Friday, March 11, 2011

Purchase of vehicles for board members attacked, defended

LINGAYEN-The purchase of Ford Everest vehicles for each of the 15 provincial board members and the vice governor created an uproar among Pangasinenses, who said the lawmakers are on top of the world with their everests while many residents are wallowing in poverty.
            Each of the 15 board members and the vice governor were assigned a Ford Everest worth about P1.3 million each, with P1 million allocation from their own offices and the rest was from the savings of the provincial governor’s office in 2010, Provincial Board Member Alfonso Bince said.
Bince pleaded for understanding from Pangasinenses for the purchase of vehicles, saying this was the first time that they are being provided with service rides.
            The longest-serving board member of the province said even small provinces like Abra and Ifugao were provided with government vehicles, and we “envy them when they arrive in their own vehicles while sometimes we (Pangasinan board members) have to car pool.”
            In the commentary program of Orly Navarro over Aksyon Radyo, text messages assailed the board members for buying luxury vehicles amid poverty in the province.
            Some said it was insensitive of the lawmakers to be riding in expensive vehicles when the provincial government has still to meet the social basic needs of Pangasinenses.
            Navarro said even after Bince explained the reasons for the purchase of vehicles on air, his program was swamped with negative comments from listeners.
            A businesswoman from Lingayen, who requested not to be named, said the board members should not have put their convenience over the interests of their constituents, especially because they have their own private vehicles which they can use.
            “They should have used the money for projects to uplift the people’s lot, like construction of school buildings, scholarships and livelihood projects,” she said.
            But Bince said the projects for the poor are continuous and, such as the PhilHealth in which Pangasinan has the biggest membership and the repair of district hospital buildings. “We also purchased ambulances, shuttle vehicles for provincial employees, vehicles for schools division offices. Please don’t begrudge us the service vehicles, especially those ‘graduating’ or on their last term of office like I am,” he said.
            He explained that there will be no additional cost for gasoline because what the board members will be using would be the allowable transportation allowance which is P6,500 monthly.
            Bince said it was because 16 vehicles were purchased at one time that the acquisition was noticeable, “unlike when a mayor for instance, buy only one.”
            “Let us put this in proper perspective. (The vehicles) are a necessity for out mobility as board members. I, for instance, represents district VI which has ten towns, where I usually go around to meet with my constituents,” he said.
            The assignment of government vehicles has been “a desire of the board members long before the administration of Governor Amado Espino,” he said.
            “We requested him during his first term, but it was only during his second term that it was granted,” he said

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