Dinagat vice gov accused of slapping budget officer

SURIGAO CITY  (MindaNews/13 January) — The budget officer of Surigao del Norte has accused Dinagat Vice Governor  Geraldine B. Ecleo of  slapping her and pulling her hair in a meeting Friday morning at the  Surigao del Norte capitol.

Budget Officer Maria Gay Yuipco-Cotiangco, 54, told police Ecleo slapped her left cheek and pulled her hair. She suffered scratches on both arms.

SLAPPED. Surigao del Norte Budget Officer Maria Gay Yuipco-Cotiangco, 54, alleged she was slapped by Dinagat Island Vice Governor Geraldine B. Ecleo during a budget meeting in Surigao City on Friday morning, January 13. /MIndaNews photo by Roel CatotoEcleo  is a daughter of Dinagat Governor Glenda Ecleo and sister to fugitive Rep. Ruben Ecleo, Jr., Supreme Master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA).

The vice governor met with  provincial officials and the regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG  on the budget of the three district hospitals in the province of Dinagat Islands.

Witnesses said the spat started during the discussion of the  revised version of the Memorandum of Agreement on the P110 million budget, a portion of which will go to the compensation of the workers in  the three district hospitals in the island-province.

Dinagat’s Internal Revenue Allotment was scrapped by the Department of Budget and Management when the Supreme Court in February 2010 declared as unconstitutional RA 9355, the law that created the province of Dinagat in 2006, citing its failure to comply with the land area and population requirement to create a province.

Dinagat was carved out of Surigao del Norte.

In March 2011, however, the Supreme Court, voting 9-6, reversed its 2010 ruling

Cotiangco said Ecleo shouted at her saying: “Paghuyat did-on  kay nag-istorya pa ko” (Wait because I’m still speaking”) before Ecleo stood up and attacked her.

Sought for  comment, Ecleo said: “Maybe you heard the statement of DILG regional director. That is more than enough. I don’t want to comment because too much talk, many mistakes.”

“I came here on behalf of the Dinagat employees in the three hospital districts. Walo ko manhi diri sa Surigao aron magbinastos, nianhi ko aron mahatagan og budget ang three district hospitals. If unsa man gani, magpa video siya ug mokuha siyag witnesses. Para mogawas  gyod unsa ang tinuod. The statement of Director Burgeos is fair enough,” she said.

Mindanews asked Director Burdeos for comment. He denied there was  a commotion but  admitted that a heated argument took place.

Other provincial officials who were in the meeting declined to talk about the incident. Ramon Gotingga, assistant provincial administrator of Surigao del Norte, begged the media not to report  the incident.

The vice governor’s brother, the fugitive Ruben  Jr., has two standing arrest warrants: one for the parricide case involving the killing of his wife, Alona, in 2002 in Cebu City; the other for conviction by the Sandiganbayan for the anomalous construction of projects when he was mayor of San Jose from 1991 to 1994.

The Ecleo clan has been ruling Dinagat for decades.

In the 2010 elections, the matriarch, Glenda Ecleo won as governor, Geraldine as vice governor and the fugitive, Ecleo, Jr. as  representative.

Three other siblings were elected mayor. The three ran unopposed. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)