“Salary stories are intrusive. Do you ask your neighbour what they earn for their job?”
By Alex P. Vidal
We were surprised to learn from the piece of paper recently posted by lawyer-journalist Pet Melliza on his blog that some of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s most active and deserving executive assistants are receiving only paltry salaries, while some of those who can’t be considered as assets in his administration are getting huge monthly pays.
We don’t question the amount that these subalterns receive since they are supposedly inherently specified in the plantilla duly authorized under the law.
The paper did not have the signature of any authorized city hall official, but we presumed its contents were correct since it was presented to public by a very credible lawyer and journalist, my colleague in media for more than 20 years.
Jeffrey Celiz (executive assistant on political affairs) and Fernando Jose “Boyet” Rico (executive assistant on barangay affairs) are two of the most diligent, vocal and active members of city hall’s executive branch, yet their salaries are not even half of those being enjoyed by some of their peers.
The big cats swallow the lion’s share of the total salaries appropriated for all executive assistants, Mabilog’s appointed officials who hold co-terminus positions.
Celiz, who risked his life and limbs as Mabilog’s spokesperson and “shock absorber” especially during elections, gets only P23,044 a month, far cry from the P58,028 monthly pay of city administrator Norlito Bautista, who is not as gutsy and as tough as Celiz when it comes to “biting the bullets” and “eating the punches” of Mabilog’s political and media adversaries.
No one among Mabilog’s executive assistants–not even Bautista–is as intrepid and as passionate compared to Celiz when it comes to doing his assigned tasks.
In fact, among the soldiers of Mabilog, Celiz tops the list as the most harassed, the most ridiculed, the most maligned, and the most dedicated.
No one among the members of Mabilog’s political family has incurred voluminous scars inflicted on Celiz in his many no-holds-barred skirmishes with Mabilog’s political enemies.
If Julius Caesar had Mark Antony, Mabilog has Celiz.
And Celiz knows who are the potential Brutuses and Cassiuses in his boss’ backyard.
With all his talent, dedication and sacrifices, Celiz should get more than P23,044 a month.
Boyet Rico suffers the most—when it comes to “unequal distribution of wealth”, so to speak.
The former village chief of Housing, Mandurriao, who is Mabilog’s confidante and liaison to all barangay officials—chiefs and councilors—is receiving only, would you believe, P15,081 a month.
Almost less than half of what Engr. Romeo “Boy” Paloma III (executive assistant on barangay projects) receives at P37,376 a month.
Rico, who comes from the city’s illustrious political clan whose members have carved a niche in public service since the post-war era, is also the most maligned like Celiz.
His salary obviously isn’t commensurate with the scope of his responsibility which covers the city’s 180 barangays.
Among all of Mabilog’s executive assistants, Rico is the most active especially in promoting barangay-level programs and projects implemented by the city government in the social media.
While other co-terminus officials are either too shy or too lazy to post some of Mabilog’s community outreach programs, barangay symposia and other related activities in social media, Rico almost always overloads his Facebook account with these events.
Rico, who was recently bruised by an ugly canard that emanated from city hall’s inner chamber, deserves more than what he gets like Celiz.
With the advent of technology and internet, political propaganda has shifted from the mainstream to the social media.
We’ve seen how Mabilog feverishly struggled to promote his programs, activities and projects and patiently answered critics in his interactions with both foes and allies in the Facebook.
Where were the overfed co-terminus knights while the king was single-handedly thwarting attackers of the castle in this new battlefield?
Ilonggos will know who are those who deserve gargantuan pays and those who don’t according to their performances and tasks.
Atty. Daniel Dinopol (city legal officer), P58,028/month; Jess Sio (assistant department head), P49,750/month; Dr. Perla Zulueta (executive assistant on finance), P42,652/month; Victor Facultad (building administrator), P42,652/month; Ely Estante (executive assistant on markets), P42,652/month; Erwin Plagata (executive assistant on medical services), P42,652/month; Dominador Coo (executive assistant on tourism), P36,567/month; Norma Jimenea (social services), P29,025/month; Ariel Castaneda (political affairs), P29,025/month; Jay Victor Mabilog (executive assistant), P29,028; Dr. Guillermo de la Llana (mentally-ill), P25,161/month; Patrick Alan Sy (dengue concerns), P23,044/month; Felix Muchada Sr. (security), P23,044; Melchor Tan (barangay special), P23,044/month; Mitch Antiquena (water system); P23,044; and Hector Alejano (environment concerns), P16,292.