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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, October 20, 2016
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TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY

Quick fix

Tightrope

During the elections one of the major issues against the former administration was the purchase by the Bacolod City government of P40 million worth of facilities supposedly for a speech laboratory. At the last day of the administration of former mayor Monico Puentevella, city officials hurriedly paid P36.7 million to Nikka Trading, the supplier.

The bases for the payment were obviously defective at that on the first day that the Leonardia administration took over, the city cashier (who did not sign the check) did not issue an advice to the bank so that the check was not honored.

The lawyer of the supplier threatened to sue the city but to this date no case was filed. I wrote then that the supplier should be allowed to sue so that we can ferret out the truth from the city officials involved in this transaction with their statements under oath. After all, the supplier has also to explain the circumstances of the purchase and its failures.

So far, the supplier and the former administration had been insisting the deal was aboveboard but I believe that, under oath, all those involved will be singing different tunes considering the circumstances of the purchase and the hurried issuance of the check.

For instance there was a report that the cashier took shelter in the hospital so she will not have to affix her signature to the check. One city employee was also reported to have dogged her even there. Anyway an acting cashier allegedly signed the check.

When the Leonardia administration took over, reports said that the city will investigate and I presumed it was the City Legal Office that will do so because the issues are legal and prosecution must be initiated. The deal was questionable.

But the Sanggunian decided to conduct an investigation supposedly for legislative purposes as inquiries by the legislative is always in “aid of legislation.” But it now turns out that the SP was not interested in “aid of legislation:” but to direct the “conciliation” between the city and the supplier.

Specifically the SP approved the move to “conciliate between the Department of Education and the supplier”. The SP was so determined to get this conciliation going on pronto that Councilor Renecito Novero merely told Councilor Ricardo Tan who withdrew his vote approving the conciliation that his withdrawal was merely “noted” and cannot be extracted anymore.

Novero's explanation is purely sequitur and speculative that prevents anybody from changing his mind. We will leave it at that for the meantime.

Curiously, nobody questioned Novero's imprimatur. It was an ex cathedra declaration.

Conciliatus means to win over, to placate, to make friends, to gain favor by friendly acts. In plain language it means “to fix”.

What is there to conciliate? Who or what is the SP going to placate? From whom is favor to be gained? What is there to fix?

Any member of the SP can tell us whether it is proper for the SP to direct conciliation, to fix a case involving P39.76 million.

I think Councilor Tan had the change of mind because he realized at the last minute that the way and the direction of the “fixing” or conciliation is not an inherent duty of a legislative council. In fact, Novero has not yet published his committee's findings on the case.

For the city to propose conciliation is to project the position that the case of the city is weak and therefore should make peace with Nikka Trading.

In effect the SP undercut the city's position and placed pressure on the DepEd to conciliate. Of course the DepEd can always refuse any proposal that is disadvantageous but can it refuse the “intentions” of the SP?

Conciliation means to give and to take. What will DepEd give to Nikka Trading? DepEd can agree to accept the questionable speech laboratory while Nikka Trading can complete its contract. In that case “all's well that ends well” as Shakespeare wrote.

Does this mean that the shortcuts and the violations of law will be forgotten? Does this mean that nobody will get penalized if culprits just agreed to conciliate?

Will those involved in this anomalous transaction go scot free? Will conciliation, quick fixing be the “normal procedure” under the present administration?

Will other cases involving Nikka Trading like the tourist bus be conciliated, fixed by the SP as well?

At what price is fixing?*

           

 

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