BACOLOR -- Bacolor Mayor Jose Mari "Jomar" Hizon and Magalang Mayor Malu Paras-Lacson denied Wednesday irregularities in the sale and purchase of hogs seized from a clandestine shabu laboratory in Magalang town late last year.

On Tuesday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) officially filed a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against Hizon and Lacson for entering into a trade of the 4,038 pigs "which were owned by private individuals and not the municipality of Magalang."

Hizon was identified as the sole bidder and buyer of the said hogs which he purchased in the amount of P7-million.

Hizon narrated that a week after the shabu laboratory which posed as a piggery farm and a feed mill, was closed by officials, a family friend of theirs informed him that the confiscated pigs will be auctioned by the local government.

"He [family friend] invited me to the farm and sees for myself the hogs. I checked on the pigs and they gave me the guidelines for the bidding," he said.

He then asked Lacson if he has the authority to dispose the hogs which she answered that she has secured a resolution from the Sangguniang Bayan.

Hizon added that the local government informed him a few days after that he was awarded the bid and gave him the guidelines to proceed.

The issuance of the cheque to the local government of Magalang and withdrawal of hogs from the farm then followed in the process, Hizon said.

"I came there in good faith to exercise my right as a businessman and the buyer of the pigs. I, being the sole bidder is not my concern, as I just placed my bid in the amount I think is right which the local government accepted," he noted.

Hizon also asserted that he bought the pigs as a private citizen and not as the chief executive of Bacolor or as a public official.

"That is why I am confused why they filed the graft case. Graft is a case involving an official of the government and the public or if a certain individual conspires with a public official for one's gain which is not really relevant in this case," he stressed.

He added that no money is missing in the transaction since everything were deposited in the trust fund of the local government of Magalang.

Meanwhile, Hizon questioned the authority of PDEA to file a complaint against him since the hogs were confiscated in favor of the government and their office is not the sole representative of the government.

He added that PDEA has already turned over the pigs to the barangay chairman which gave them the authority to dispose them.

Nonetheless, Hizon said that he is willing to face the case and prove the illegitimacy of the accusations filed against him.

Standing firm

Meanwhile, Lacson said in statement sent to Sun.Star Pampanga that she is standing firm on the courses of action taken by the local government of Magalang.

“I stand on a firm ground that the courses of actions that were done to cause the disposal of the hogs were to safeguard the general welfare of the people. The decision rendered was in consonance with the advise and legal opinion of the DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government], supported by certifications from the departments regulating the establishment and the nature of business it engages into (piggery),” she said.

Furthered Lacson: “The hogs were left unattended and the farm was abandoned right after the raid. Animal manure started to build up. Nobody stayed to clean and feed the swine (the estimated cost of feeding these is P160,000 per day). The pigs started to get sick and many died already. The effects of all these on human health cannot be taken so lightly, and if not acted upon immediately will result to a magnitude of potential problems, which I cannot risk for doing nothing as the Local Chief Executive, thus, compelling us to take necessary actions to address all these problems.

Before taking any action, the LGU together with the PNP and department heads concerned conducted, recorded and documented an inventory of the piggery farm.

After consultation with the concerned department heads, veterinarian, dilg and authorization granted by the SB of Magalang, the livestock composed mostly of piglets were subjected to an auction and sold for 7 million pesos to a reputable company.

A manifestation to consign the proceeds of the sale was communicated through a letter to the court stating that the total amount collected from the buyer was deposited in the LGU's trust fund while we are waiting for the court's advise to whom this shall be given.

As of today, the sale proceeds amounting to P7 million is in the LGU's trust fund account at the Landbank of the Philippines. At 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, the court order was received by the LGU's treasurer's office directing the municipal treasurer of Magalang to deposit the proceeds from the sale amounting to P7 million to the clerk of court which the LGU will do so.”

“All of the undertakings stated in this statement were documented and can be verified in the files kept at the LGU. Should anyone wish to check these may visit the LGU to confirm the accuracy of the information,” concluded Lacson. (With Chris Navarro)