By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
THE sacking of the long-time chief of the Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force (ICAST) is just the first of major changes at the City Hall under the second administration of Mayor Jerry Treñas.
The firing spree also affected the Task Force on Anti-Squatting and Illegal Structures (ASIS) and Boarding House Commission (BHC)
Former ICAST Executive Director Iñigo Garingalao had confirmed on Tuesday that he already vacated his post right after Treñas returned to City Hall on Monday.
Garingalao said he was verbally advised by City Administrator Melchor Tan to quit, giving the mayor leeway to decide on the current organizational setup.
“Unofficially and verbally gin-advise ako ni City Administrator nga i-vacate ko ang position with the reason nga hatagan sang leeway ang aton bag-o nga mayor,” he said.
Garingalao has been reassigned to the office of Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo.
Meanwhile, the 25 job hires under ICAST have also been removed following the non-renewal of their contracts of service, according to Garingalo.
“Amo gid man na ang one of the weaknesses sang ICAST. Tanan gid man abi sila job hires although lawig naman tani sila. If himuon mo sila permanent, you need to create pa another position,” he said.
Garingalao said he respects the decision of the mayor.
“I respect ya ang decision ni mayor. So kay tungod kambyo siya administrasyon and the way I understand it nga ang tanan daw i-hold in abeyance kag ma-apply liwat sila,” he said.
Garingalao said that he somewhat expected that he will be removed from his post for the reason that he already finished his job in the ICAST.
“Sa akon ya, may feeling man ko nga tapos na ko ya bala, daw nalab-ot ko naman ang dapat lab-uton although we have many things coming this year.”
Garingalao has been the face of ICAST for nine years now.
“I think isa sa mga legacy ko is na-empower ko ang damo nga tawo to say no sa smoking and mas nadugangan mo ila nga intelligent choice para sa ill effects of smoking and na-increase man naton ang ila awareness,” he said.
According to Garingalao, he was able to show that structural and economic development can be coupled with a health advocacy during his time as the executive director of ICAST.
“Isa ta da nga napakita nga pwede ta man gali ka event sa Iloilo nga wala sigarilyuhanay. Pwede ta ya ang aton development nga structural and economic, updan ta sang health advocacy nga pwede siya ma-implement, it can be summed up nga gin-show mo bala nga it can be done,” he said.
Under his administration, ICAST strictly implemented the Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Iloilo City and intensified the campaign against smoking through the Kids Smoke Free Story Telling Program (KISS) in schools.
These numerous projects made Iloilo City one of the five recipients of the World No Tobacco Day Awards by the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region for its outstanding work in the tobacco control recently.
Last year, Garingalao was also one of the regional winners in the 2018 Search for Outstanding Workers under the Honors and Awards Program, Dangal ng Bayan Category given by the Civil Service Commission.
Aside from ICAST, Task Force on Anti-Squatting and Illegal Structures (ASIS) head Robert Dumanil and Boarding House Commission (BHC) head Ben Palma were also removed from their posts.
In a radio interview, Treñas said he is currently reviewing the performances of the ICAST, ASIS and the BHC.
After reviewing for about two days, he said that he will come up with a final decision.
“Tanan gina-review ko, Task Force ASIS and Boarding House Commission may nabutang na gani ko. Gina-review ko ang ICAST kay iban nagareklamo nga daw ka puguso sa pagdala sang amo na nga function so I will look for such evidence para mareview ko tanan. As the new mayor, I will have to be responsible for everyone so amo na nga mapili man ko nga masaligan ko,” he said.
Meanwhile, Garingalao said he is open to mentor whoever will be appointed as the new director of ICAST.
He added that he is also open to explain his side once Treñas wants to meet him
“Kun ipatawag niya ako, makadto gid ko and if he has time, i-explain ko man akon side but kun ano need kag sugo sa aton, patihon ko gid siya,” he said.