Guv authorized to negotiate, but lots for road project-A A +A
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
THE Cebu Provincial Board granted Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia authority to negotiate and purchase P21 million worth of road-right-of-way for a road widening project in the north, even though it has yet to approve a set of guidelines on the purchase of real property by the Capitol.
Provincial legislators, though, grilled the provincial attorney and representatives of the budget and assessor’s office before granting the governor the authority to purchase the road-right-of-way for the widening of the road in Consolacion, right after the Cansaga bridge, as part of the Cebu North Coastal Road Project.
PB Member Ian Peter Zambo asked Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla if the lots to be purchased are near fishponds or if these were submerged.
PB Member Joven Mondigo Jr. asked if the Capitol has funds intended solely for the purchase.
The questions raised by the two legislators point to issues that came up after Capitol bought a property of the Balilis in Barangay Tinaan, Naga for P98.9 million.
The purchase led to the filing of graft charges against the governor and other provincial officials at that time as the property was mostly submerged. Garcia is also facing a technical malversation charge because the Capitol allegedly did not have funds specifically allotted for the Balili acquisition.
With the purchase of the road-right-of-way, the PB inserted a phrase of caution—“subject to availability of funds”—to prevent problems similar to those related to Balili from cropping up.
Danilo Rodas, assistant provincial budget officer, assured the PB that there are funds for the acquisition under the “roads, bridges, highway construction and rehabilitation” item in the annual budget.
Martinquilla told the PB that the Province has been able to haggle over the price of the lots.
But Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale merely asked, “Sama atong paghangyo sa Balili (The same with Balili)?”
From about P600 per square meter, the Capitol was able to bring down the price of the property of the Balilis to P400.
Martinquilla said the Provincial Government is now extra careful about purchasing lots.
Asked by Sun.Star Cebu after the session if the Balili lot purchase went through the same scrutiny, Magpale said: “Not as detailed as this.”
PB members also required the Provincial Awards Committee (PAC) to furnish each of them a copy of the survey on the road-right-of-way lots.
Even then, the PB deferred action on the proposed ordinance of PB Member Arleigh Jay Sitoy, seeking to establish guidelines on real property purchases of the Provincial Government.
The proposal prohibits any Capitol official or employee from directly or indirectly acting as broker or facilitating the sale of properties to the Province.
The proposal covers property acquisition of more than P1 million.
If passed, the governor can only buy real estate on the recommendation of the PAC and with authority of the PB.
Magpale said the proposal was not placed in the original calendar of the PB so it will be discussed next session.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 31, 2012.