Jet-setting provincial officials, at whose expense?
By Leonardo Micua
THE intense summer heat in Pangasinan daily, not lower than 40 degrees Celsius, is indeed, taking a toll on the energy of most of our public official. They make excuses to take a break from their work and jet-set to colder countries on government time.
First, some provincial board members left their posts in virtual abandonment of their legislative work when they flew as one big delegation to the United States for a still unclear purpose.
(How could have anyone known if their trip was official because they were secretive that even some functionaries at the capitol were kept continuously guessing about their whereabouts).
The BMs were even accompanied by some department heads and yes, consultants employed as special assistants to the governor, ehem! As of May 12, some of them, but not all, are reportedly back, according to my source.
The board members finally conducted their regular session last May 8 where they passed, among others, a resolution authorizing Gov. Ramon Guico III to sign on behalf of the province a joint venture agreement with the San Miguel Holding Corporation, as original proponent, for the construction of the Pangasinan Link Expressway Project, formerly known as the Pangasinan East-West Expressway.
But we note that as the BMs and other officials started to return, it was Gov. Mon-Mon Guico’s turn to go to the U.S, to also take a “much-needed” breather from his work at the capitol.
He’s reportedly on official leave, that is why Vice Governor Mark Lambino is manning the fort at the Pangasinan capitol till the 16th. Being on a private trip, this understandably meant that Guv Mon-Mon was not spending any money of the province for his travel.
But note! The foreign travel binge of our Pangasinan public officials did not stop there when Guv Mon-Mon left the country.
We heard last week that the heads of the provincial government-run hospitals were heading to Japan, not to attend an international conference, but also for a much-needed break.
We were about to treat their Japan travel as a gossip until a friend sent to me a screenshot of a social media post made by a ranking Pangasinan official in a groufie with several hospital chiefs inside the NAIA Terminal while waiting for their flight departure.
We presumed the official was just accompanying the hospital chiefs to Japan in what appears to be a plain and simple junket.
Incidentally, the caption attached to that post showing the official and the department heads garbed in jet-setting attire in all-smiles says, “We also need a break”. So, all speculations and everything we heard turned out to be true.
Need I tell you that one of the several reactions from a netizen to that post that appeared on Facebook was ”Sana all!”
The report that I got was the hospital heads, and of course, the ranking official in Mon-Mon’s cabinet, will soon rendezvous in Japan with the governor, who will be enplaning from the U.S.
Hopefully, our jet-setting public officials did not have to use public funds for their overseas fun and pleasure trip. And if they did and get away with it, who will stop us from thinking later that the COA was the unwitting conspirator to hide the scandal?
Could these officials be using their personal funds for these unscheduled pleasure trips? That’s next to impossible because, who’d be stupid enough to do that at this time? Me thinks, not all public officials can afford a foreign travel, especially when a number of BMs tagged their spouses along.
Granting that their expenses were not drawn from the coffers of the province, then probably, somebody else spent for their travel!
That, my friend, would put them in a tighter fix. You know, there is something behind those foreign travel binges by our public officials in Pangasinan. There is no need to elaborate.
If that was the case, they are all liable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Foreign travels by government officials are allowed but only for official purposes and certainly, fun, pleasure and a break from work (to quote the social media post of a ranking official in the governor’s cabinet) are not among them.
Pretty lucky are public officials being given the privilege to travel overseas on government time, a freebee not normally enjoyed by other officials, especially those who worked and are suspected of still maintaining their connections with officials of the past provincial administration that ruled the province for 15 years.
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