Blackhole critics decry mayor’s abuse

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Saturday, September 29, 2012


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Critics of the Blackhole technology are now alleging an abuse in authority by Mayor Greg Abalos.

Sun.Star Baguio sources claim the agreement to enter in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the municipality and the Cooperative Bank of Benguet was never approved nor known to the officials.

If a PPP was in place, the source said, then legislators would have to give their ratification and reviewed guidelines to the deal.

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“The only authority the mayor had was to seek assistance for the technology,” the source added.

The source also said that the authority did not mean Abalos could do anything he pleased.

Last week, Abalos presented Japanese partners for the technology and Miguel Luma-ang, chairman of the Cooperative Bank of Benguet, to the public in a press conference aiming to clarify doubts to the project.

Japanese Engr. Shinya Okubo, inventor of the technology, said adjustments were made for the technology to adapt to Philippine waste volume.

While Luma-ang said the project is being studied by both parties. This is despite the civil case filed by the bank against Abalos and the local council, for non-collection of a P23-million loan made to partially pay for the technology.

A group of critics alleged the announced PPP agreement during the press conference was never part of talks in the past. “There are no documents to prove this; we know nothing about it.”

The source added the loan made in the bank was also never remitted to the municipal coffers, proving it never went through the regular processes needed in local government procurement.

Civil suits now plague the municipality as banks are pressing for collection. “Who will pay this now? The municipality? There is no allotment for this.”

The source alleged the loan was a personal dealing of Abalos as seen in the check released by the bank. “There is a process we have to abide by in local government, we cannot change that overnight.”

Municipal legal Counsel Mauricio Cating, who was also present during the press conference, said the problem of loan payments is now being worked out between the bank and the local government hoping to settle the matter amicably.

Abalos said the middle man for the technology Wisdom Amahah of the Philippines Ngo Support System has been removed from dealing with the municipality and now in direct contact with Okubo, the inventor.

Unrest has resulted in the Blackhole project with officials divided in their stance on the matter. It has also raised questions on the authority of Abalos in the whole deal.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 29, 2012.

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