ECLEO FEUD HEATS UP: Dinagat workforce divided over controversial “lawyers success fee”

In contrast with the court victory obtained by the ECLEO’S in fighting up the ‘LAND OF THE RINGS’ Dinagat Islands following the latest Supreme Court flip-flop affirming the constitutionality of Dinagat as a province, but relationship between the powerful Ecleo clan is appearing to be ironical in real score.

The trading of accusations among Ecleo kins that even reach out in social networking sites blurs on chances of reconciliation among the warring family members. In unison were Dinagat Gov. Glenda Ecleo, Provincial Administrator Benglen Ecleo and Dinagat town Mayor Gwendolyn Ecleo-Durano versus the woman standing alone with un-bended principle, Vice Governor Geraldine “Jade” Ecleo.

But PBMA loyalists are still expressing high hopes that the clash of principle among their leaders can still be heal by time.

The conflict, however, is getting extreme following the controversial alleged 10 million peso ‘success fee’ for the battery of lawyers defending their case in court, which according to reports, the amount will be source out from the regular employees pocket and requiring them for a ‘mandatory contribution’.

Early reports reaching this paper bares that originally, a memorandum of agreement was signed by then governor Jade Ecleo which expressly states that a 2 million peso cash will be given out to the lawyers as “ success fee” in case they will win in their long-struggled legal battle in Supreme Court.

Vice Governor Ecleo in exclusive interview confirmed that she had signed the MOA stating such conditions.

Reports also revealed that it was agreed unanimously by all as a prize to their legal warriors.
Too much for us

A Telephone call received by KARAGA NEWS CENTRAL from a source who requested for anonymity for security reasons revealed that some powerful personalities in Dinagat province with cohorts obliged the regular LGU employees to shell out contribution of 25 percent to be taken out from their basic salary to raise the alleged additional amount of 8 million pesos to complete the 10M required amount for payment of “lawyers success fee”.

Sources said that it was only lately when they knew that the original 2million agreed amount was being jacked up to 10M where according to allegations to served as payment for the additional group of lawyers in Manila and to defray the expenses for the “Victory Caravan” and other activities as a show of jubilation following their court’s success over their embattled province.

“We are willing to shell-out certain amount for the success and victory of our province but 10 million is too much for us employees to contribute even if it will be divided upon by 300 plus regular employees”, a certain “John” not his real name told this paper.

Jade in defense

As the last woman standing for her people, vice governor Jade Ecleo, said it was such a silly move allowing such huge contribution where the employees are the ones suffering the burden. She disclosed further that it was such an impractical way to let the workers contribute with that ballooning amount especially the IRA for Dinagat is still withheld by the DBM.

“Yes I am supportive to whatever move especially now that we are victorious in our fight in regaining back our province but with these present situation where the IRA is still withhold as Budget Secretary Butch Abad clearly emphasized that we are not included in the 2011 National Budget, we should stick to our original agreement of 2million success fee for our lawyers”.

The lady vice governor outspokenly told the employees in the open that they should not be scared if they will be threaten or any move that can obstruct their individual right to refuse.

“They are not brave as me…I am just teaching them to fight for their right”.

She further stressed that her only intention is to be transparent to whatever things being done in the province of Dinagat.

“I am not against with contribution for as long as those persons orchestrating the plan can present categorically the breakdown of expenses to where the money goes, then I am willing to set down in the negotiating table to discuss the matter”, she said.

“For as long as it is for transparency and goodwill for the majority, I am willing to die with this kind of principle”, Vgov. Ecleo said.

Deliberate and not compulsory

Dinagat Provincial Administrator Benglen Ecleo opined in a radio interview that there is no such thing as ‘force contribution’.

“We are not forcing anyone to shell out contribution against their personal will”, he said.

“I am only being misquoted as I told them in one of our consultations that they will be facing consequences if they will not contribute”, “What I would like to emphasize is that we are not hiring low-caliber lawyers to defend us in court like what happened to us during the first leap of the case…Now we are victorious and it is only equitable that we should share something for this victory”.

Dinagat has created its own empire just because of that spirit of bayanihan that we are known to and those who don’t offer their share are the ones preaching the issue, Administrator Benglen added.
Mr. Joseph Marcos, Human Resource Officer and President of the Dinagat Islands Employees Association also denied the allegations of the so called force contribution.

He said the money they could share is just the least they can offer to the success of their province and it’s only reasonable because what Dinagat Province can provide them is a lifetime benefit and that they can share also to the next generation of the Dinagatnons.

“What we are trying to do now is to raised the 2 million original agreement for success fee out from our voluntary contribution and if it is necessary for us to contribute for that additional 8 million, then we are willing set down and explore other possibilities where we can get that amount”, Marcos said.

He disclosed further that as a PBMA, they are affected of the Ecleo feud in a sense that the employees are divided but in the context of loyalty and faith, it remains in tact, Joseph Marcos said.

Moral Obligation

Dr. Aimee Jemino, Provincial Veterinarian disclosed that there was no such mandatory contribution imposed by the administration instead, the workers themselves were the ones voluntarily offer the contribution to pay the prize for their victory.

“The employees where not being forced to contribute with such 25 percent from our basic salary…Dinagatnons are known to ‘BAYANIHAN’ system and cooperation and it was the desire of the employees to give portion of their income to manifest their willingness to support what is needed for our province especially we are victorious in our fight to regain back our province”, she said.

Jemino dismissed the allegations of force contribution however, said the employees themselves volunteered to share.

“We felt that it is also our moral obligation to uphold our institution where we are in right now…We have been victorious in our plight in fighting for the legitimacy of our province and these we are morally obliged to share something for this victory”, Dr. Jemino added.

The same sentiments opined by Carl Mars Ravelo, an employee of the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Office that the endowment they could give as share for success fee is un-match with the advantages they could get being a separate province.

“Even my whole one month salary, I am very much willing to give as my contribution”, he said.

Provincial Social Welfare Officer Virginia Salar, a non- PBMA member also stressed she is prepared to contribute in any amount for as long as it will agreed by the majority as part of her share to the success and victory of their case in the Supreme Court.

Affected by feud

Members of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association PBMA were partly affected of the on-going clash between the ECLEO hierarchies.

PBMA’s told this paper that they are affected of the family feud in a sense that the employees are divided but in the context of loyalty and faith, it remains in tact, they said.

However, they still believe and very optimistic that the bad blood between siblings could be settled in due time as the saying goes ‘BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER’.

But Jade Ecleo said “loosing a family is not an easy thing…But I’m prepared if they turn their back on me…’If blood is thicker that water then I‘m not as confident as the saying because not all the time it happens”. (Natz Corbeta, Editor/Publisher, Karaga News Central)


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