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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, October 24, 2012
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I’m a secret
weapon: Escalante


Negros Occidental Board Member Salvador Escalante, who is conducting Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Finance and Appropriations hearings on the proposed P2.020 billion provincial government budget for 2013, yesterday said he is the secret weapon of both Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr.

“It is very obvious that there is war between the governor and the vice governor. I serve as the bridge between the two giants”, Escalante said.

He is the one who delivers the concerns of both leaders to each other, Escalante said.

Alvarez is challenging Marañon for the gubernatorial post of the province in 2013.

There has been talk that the SP, which is dominated by allies of Alvarez, may move to oust Escalante as chairman of the SP Committee on Finance and Appropriations.

Escalante, an ally of Marañon, said he is very willing to relinquish the chairmanship of the committee, noting that the budget hearings are taking a lot of his time away from his constituents in the second district.

If someone in the SP is willing to take over the committee chairmanship, Escalante said he will gladly turn it over.

But Alvarez, who appointed him chairman of the SP Committee on Finance and Appropriations, told him to stay put and continue what he is doing, Escalante said.

Escalante was on the second day of deliberations on the 2013 budget yesterday, but many of his committee members had not been attending the hearings.

The committee vice chairman is Board Member Emilio Yulo III and its members are Board Members Miller Serondo, Manuel Frederick Ko and Raul Rivera.

Yulo has asked that minutes of the hearings be taken so he can review them, Escalante said.

Aside from Escalante, only Serondo and Board Member Mae Javellana were at the hearing yesterday morning.

Yulo and Ko were not there, while Rivera had official business in Iloilo.

Meanwhile, Escalante said the request of the governor for an ordinance for the release of a P170 million phase two loan for the Negros First CyberCenter in Bacolod City is currently at the Committee on Finance level.

A counter proposal has been made by some board members for the provincial government to avail of the P170 million loan in phases, according to need, he said.

Yulo is working on the time bound ordinance that has been proposed, Escalante said.

Escalante said the SP action on the loan is needed soon in order not to delay work on the cyber center. Processing of a loan with the bank takes about three months and another two months for approval by the Monetary Board of the Bangko Central ng Pilipinas, he said.

Piecemeal approval of the loan might delay the project, he added.*CPG

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