Leaders fight over new hall-A A +A
Monday, February 25, 2013
FOR allegedly destroying the unfinished new municipal hall building, Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado and 15 other town officials are facing criminal and administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.
They were charged with malversation of public funds, grave abuse of authority and discretion, gross ignorance of the law, and serious and grave misconduct by incumbent Councilors Nicole Escobido, Vito Rolito Villo, Maria Analee Gungob, and Iluminado Alin.
The complainants also accused the 16 officials of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. One of the complainants is a daughter of Mayor Alegado’s rival in the May 2013 elections, former mayor Avelino Gungob.
Mayor Alegado said she believes the complaints are politically motivated. “Atubangon ta lang na (We will face them),” she said.
The other respondents are Vice Mayor Aurelio Rey Damole; Councilors Beinvenido Ermac, Julius Alegado, Brando Cuizon, Nilo Ferraren, Alfred Francis Ouano, Marilou Casul; Municipal Administrator Crispin Cañeda, Municipal Legal Officer Christian Bacus, Municipal Engineer Carlito Maglasang, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Salome Palan, Municipal Treasurer Rosalina Maglasang, spouses Edgar and Leah Pitogo, and Isidro Ike Pitogo.
According to Mayor Alegado, one of the complainants, Councilor Escobido, got angry after the Municipal Council approved a resolution authorizing the demolition of the town’s gymnasium.
It also authorized the construction of the municipal hall’s extension.
She said the council approved the resolution during a special session last Feb. 21. Escobido, however, complained she was not given time to air her views on the plan.
The demolition of the town’s gym and construction of the municipal hall extension in Poblacion Oriental is a separate issue being opposed by the four councilors who filed the complaints.
The complainants said that on June 8, 2009, the first phase of the new municipal hall building was implemented by the Consolacion Municipal Government through the winning contractor, Maricivi Structures and Industrial Services.
This phase cost P8,998,541.80, the complainants said.
Work on the first phase ended on Nov. 30, 2009, during the term of Gungob.
When Alegado took over as mayor in July 2010, the complainants alleged, the new mayor said she did not want to continue the projects Gungob started.
The council passed a resolution asking the Commission on Audit (COA) to furnish a clearance that will allow the conversion of the proposed municipal building to a multi-purpose building.
COA, in a letter dated April 28, 2011, approved the request, but not for the destruction, demolition or abandonment of the new municipal hall building, the complainants pointed out.
The complainants said that Damole and majority of the council’s members did not stop Alegado’s order. They also questioned why the property was supposedly given to the Maglasang spouses, when the property still belongs to the local government.
“Notwithstanding her knowledge of the existence of the COA letter, (Alegado) proceeded to abandon, as she had in fact, already abandoned the project, and caused the destruction and demolition of the Phase 1 of the new municipal hall building by allowing its huge steel bars to be taken and stolen by thieves with acetylene machines during nighttime, and ordered to have it crushed with
backhoe equipment and bulldozed it,” the complaint read.
Mayor Alegado told Sun.Star Cebu that the opposition councilors who were present during the special session did not react when the presiding officer asked for comments.
Alegado also explained that an extension of the municipal hall is needed, since the building can no longer accommodate an increasing number of transactions from a growing populace.
“We are a first-class municipality and our population is increasing,” she said.
The mayor also said she has met all the requirements for the demolition and even held a public hearing for the construction of the municipal hall’s extension.
“As a seasoned politician, I’ve been honed. I know those moves,” Mayor Alegado said in a phone interview about the filing of the complaints.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 25, 2013.