Are they promoting Cebu or are they being used to polish the image of the Garcias and throw muck at their opponents?
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale posed this question yesterday about radio blocktimers hired by the Capitol as budget hearings opened yesterday at the Provincial Board.
Magpale said that instead of promoting the province, blocktimers or broadcasters who rent air time in a radio station are “attacking the opposition on air.”
Under scrutiny in the PB is the proposed annual 2013 budget, which includes outlays for “advertisements” used to pay for radio block time and “printing” for the monthly magazine Sugbo News and cable subscription for the cable channel Sugbo TV.
Magpale said she has heard herself being attacked on radio by broadcasters who refer to her as “Pale-pale”, a play on her surname.
“Gibirahan ko. Kadungog ko sa block timers nila,” the vice governor told reporters.
“That’s why I’m asking now who is paying them and is this part of “promotion” in the budget because we’ve asked before and have been told there’s a budget for this. We also ask, can they they provide us a list?”
“This is supposed to be used for the promotion of the province, not to attack opposition members.”
In yesterday’s budget hearing, provincial budget officer Emme Gingoyon confirmed that there are radio programs where block timers are being paid by the Capitol with salaries taken from a P10 million “advertisement” appropriation in the 2012 budget.
No names were mentioned, however.
A check with the 2012 annual budget posted in the Cebu province website, shows the budget for “Advertising” is P13.655 million.
Provincial chief of staff Elizabeth Francia who appeared yesterday in the session was asked to submit a list of radio programs and block timers, a request made by PB member PB Member Peter John Calderon, chairman of the committee on budget and appropriations.
She was also asked about the budget outlay for the Capitol’s Sugbo News magazine and Sugbo TV.
Under the proposed 2013 budget, Sugbo News will have a budget allocation of P22 million while Sugbo TV will have P8 million.
In the 2012 annual budget, the outlay for “Printing and Binding” used for the magazine is P22,200,000.
Calderon asked why there was a steep increase in the budget for “cable operations” from P200,000 in 2012 to P8 million next year.
Francia explained that the Province is paying P100,000 a month to Sky Cable, which carries Sugbo TV, and US$14,000 a month for the “satellite feed”.
Sugbo TV airs for 24 hours on Sky Cable channel 14.
Calderon also scrutinized the content of both the magazine and Sugbo TV.
Francia, who is listed as the “editorial consultant” of Sugbo News, said an editor in chief goes through all the articles written for the monthly publication while a separate editor oversees the production and content of Sugbo TV.
Both editors are casual employees and are co-terminous with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
Francia emphasized that Sugbo News and Sugbo TV were created to “let everybody know what programs are being implemented” in the province. The Capitol’s TV channel also generates income from paid advertisements that go to the general fund, she explained.
Vice Governor Magpale emphasized that “it should promote the province” and not the ‘candidacy’ of an individual.
“Kung ang moguwa didto kay to promote people nga dili gani officials karon… murag dili na sab tingale na maayo (If what comes out on TV are things that promote certain people who are not really officials of the province then that is not proper),” she said.
Apart from Francia, the budget committee likewise asked Dr. Cristina Giango, head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), to present a copy of the actual income of all hospitals under the province in 2011 and 2012.
Provincial Agriculturist Necias Vicoy was also asked about the Integrated Farmers System Development Program (IFSDP) of the province.
Vicoy explained the program integrates all aspects of farming which include an insurance program, corn, fishery and rice production.
From January to November of this year, the Capitol has paid P5.7 million for premiums taken from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) which benefits 29,000 farmers in the province.
Vice Governor Magpale commented that there are no farmers in Samboan town in south Cebu who are covered by the insurance scheme. Vicoy said only nine farmers there availed of the IFSDP and that the program can’t be imposed on all local government units in Cebu.
PB Member Wilfredo Caminero told Vicoy said the program “did not click” which is why it was replaced.
Caminero said the P22 million budget allotted for agriculture this year is not enough to cover the 36,000 farmers in the province which, based on his computation, would have each farmer benefitting from only P60 each.
This is the first budget hearing conducted by PB since the 2013 annual budget was submitted last October. /Carmel Loise Matus, Correspondent