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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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Stop P1.7B loan
Two Bacolod candidates ask court


A civil case was filed by two former Bacolod City officials and a contractor before the Regional Trial Court against Bacolod City, represented by Mayor Evelio Leonardia and 16 incumbent city officials and department heads, for what they called the hasty approval of the P1.7 billion loan for priority projects of the city.

The case for certiorari, prohibition and annulment of contract with prayer for temporary restraining order was filed on January 18 by former councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, former vice mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson and contractor Antonio Wong.

Named respondents were the mayor, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Councilors Caesar Distrito, Cindy Rojas, Renecito Novero, EmAng, Elmer Sy, Ana Marie Palermo, Dindo Ramos, Bartolome Orola, Sonya Verdeflor, Lady Gles Gonzales-Pallen, and Ayesha Joy Villalfor;

Sangguniang Panlungsod Secretary Vicente Petierre lll, City Treasurer, Giovanni Balalilhe, City Accountant Corazon Cardel, City Budget Officer Maria Imelda Williams, DBP, and Bernardo Castillon Jr., DBP- Negros Occidental Lending Center head.

Batapa-Sigue and Sayson are running for mayor and vice mayor, respectively, under the Asenso Para sa Bwas damlag sg Bacolodnon-MKK, while Wong had filed a previous case against the city officials for not paying Penjan Builders, that was contracted by the city during the Puentevella administration, for the delivery of construction materials.

In their complaint, the petitioners claimed that “the mad rush to approve all the necessary resolutions and ordinances for the P1.7 billion loan transaction took only 20 days to complete, from the alleged sham public hearing on Nov. 26, 2018 up to notice of approval of the loan on Nov. 28, and the passage of an appropriation ordinance on Dec. 14, 2018.

What makes the loan even more anomalous and suspicious, they said, is the fact that most respondent SP members who approved the pertinent resolutions and ordinances will already reach the end of their terms this June, while some of them are running for re-election this May, they added.

The petitioners prayed that a writ of preliminary injunction and TRO be issued prohibiting respondents from releasing the loan amount of P1.7 billion pursuant to the term loan agreement and the continuing assignment with hold-out agreement.

They also asked that, in the event that the loan amount or any portion of it has been released prior to the issuance or service of the TRO and/or injunction, that a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction be issued directing public respondents to return to DBP the amount/s received by virtue to the term loan agreement and continuing assignment with hold out guarantee.

The petitioners asked that after trial on the merits, the court would render judgment making the writ of preliminary injunction permanent and the term loan agreement and continuing assignment with hold out agreement annulled and void on the ground that they were ultra vires transactions of the city and for grounds stated in other cause of action in the petition

They also requested the court that the resolutions and ordinances pertaining to the loan be voided, nullified and declared invalid for failing to comply with the publication and posting requirements under Section 59 of the Local Government Code.

Batapa-Sigue said she filed the complaint in behalf of the taxpayers who are asking them to look at the transaction that has many procedural flaws.

Sayson said that when he was vice mayor, it took them about two terms to finish the transaction on the relocation site and about one year for the P400 million loan for the construction of the Bacolod City Government Center.

Their legal counsel Cesar Beloria said the petition is not against development. It is in fact preserving the resources of the city for future use. They do not want Bacolod to be held up for 15 years.

He said the Supreme Court came out with a ruling that local officials cannot secure loans beyond their terms.

Familiaran, in an interview over ABS CBN, said it is their right to file a complaint, and they will leave it to the court to decide. They have not yet received a copy of the complaint, he added.

He believes that the mayor and members of the SP followed procedures and that they will leave it to City Legal Officer to answer the complaint, he said.

The loan will be utilized for the P800-million construction of Bacolod MassKara Coliseum, P50-million for the development of the Progreso Village Relocation Site, P350-million for the Bacolod City College Site Development and Facilities, and P200-million for the construction of roads and bridges.*


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