Baseless

English-worded court order blamed for ‘confusion’ in N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Provincial board members who have questioned the province’s 2012 appropriation law on Wednesday asked the regional trial court here to translate in the Iloco dialect its July 12 order which clarified the freezing of the province’s annual budget.

The petitioners made the plea amid what they said were varying interpretations among the general public as to the contents of the temporary restraining order (TRO), which the court handed down July 6 and had led to a virtual shutdown of government operations for four days last week.

However, there have been varying interpretations of the court order, the nine Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) members said, “maybe” because the order was written in English.

“That it is very desirable that the said order be translated officially in the (Iloco) dialect, the lingua franca in this part of the region, so that those who are minded to read it would not be mislead (sic) by sheer misunderstanding due to the language barrier,” the petitioners said.

But in a hearing on Wednesday (July 18), Judge Rogelio Corpuz denied outright the petitioners’ motion for “lack of legal basis” and for being “impractical”.

“To the mind of the court, the impact of this order and other issuances of this court could well be understood by those who are interested in them via the effective media of communication available,” the court said.

On July 9, Gov. Luisa Cuaresma ordered a stoppage of operations in the provincial government as its lawyers thought it was a faithful compliance to the 20-day TRO that the petitioners sought.

The court ordered Cuaresma, Vice Gov. Jose Gambito, provincial budget officer Alejandra Dacumos and acting provincial treasurer Rhoda Moreno to “cease and desist from implementing the provisions” of the questioned 2012 annual budget.

Power was cut off for four days at the provincial capitol complex, including national government offices and the courts, which sourced their electricity from the provincial government.

Provincial employees and workers also earlier expressed concern that they will not be receiving their salaries for the 15th of the month because funds for such purpose will be drawn from the frozen 2012 annual budget, and may be considered a violation of the TRO.

However, in his July 12 typewritten order, the judge clarified that the TRO shall not cover items that were not opposed by the petitioners, including salaries and wages, payment of dues, and other “essential operating expenses”.

“The implementation of any infrastructure project is not affected by this TRO pursuant to (Presidential Decree) 1818,” the court said, referring to a 1981 law that prohibits the issuance of TROs and injunction orders on government infrastructure projects.

On Friday, power was restored at the provincial capitol grounds, and government operations went back to normal.

According to Dacumos, among the items in the 2012 budget that the petitioners opposed and were considered frozen included funds for “financial assistance” that the governor extends to persons and organizations, as well as subsidies to town and barangay governments in the province.

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