CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Mayor Oscar "Oca" Rodriguez said Monday the proposed cancellation of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on solid waste management with the British firm Rethmann has "no political color" "as insinuated by the previous administration."

Over the weekend, former city mayor and now Philippine Health Corporation president Doctor Reynaldo Aquino said the MOA was above board and that nothing was unusual and irregular about it.

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Aquino said though he refused to think politics was the motive behind the proposed cancellation of the MOA signed during his administration, he added he was "aghast at insinuations of irregularities over the agreement."

In a recent interview with Sun.Star Pampanga, he said the agreement was done according to lawful processes, with even high ranking government officials and diplomats witnessing the signing, contrary to claims by the Rodriguez camp that he had it signed by the members of the City Council then one by one and outside of official session.

But Rodriguez countered: "Definitely there is no politics involved in the proposed cancellation of the MOA with Rethmann. Neither are we saying there something was irregular. What we are saying here is that it is disadvantageous to the city and it is one-sided. Besides, many of the provisions in the MOA were not followed as the proponents said."

"They said it was a joint venture and the city's part was only to provide a portion of the dumpsite where a pathway would be put up. In fact, Councilor Alex Patio told me, it was too good to be the true so why don't we grab it? At no expense on the part of the city? But when I reviewed the so called agreement, my legal officer and I found out that most of the provisions were unclear. At nung tinatanong namin sa mga officials ng Rethmann, lalong lumalabo. I decided to have a meeting with the British officials to clear them up," he said.

Rodriguez said the meeting was held in a hotel at Clark Freeport, at the city's expense, as City Government officials refused to hold the meeting abroad as proposed by Rethmann officials.

It was also during that meeting when it was revealed that the City Government was the one to make the P350 million loan for equipment.

"They said they would just facilitate and help us in acquiring the loan contrary to what is in the agreement that they should be the one acquiring the loan. Then there is this P40 a month tipping fee to be collected from every household. Eh, iyun ngang poorest of the poor natin could not even send their children to school, sisingilin mo pa?" Rodriguez said.

"I asked paano ka makakabalik sa pulitika kung perwisyo ito? At kahit paano namin tingnan, and the worst, ang Rethmann lang talaga ang kikita dito," said Rodriguez.

"During the meeting, na-klaro iyung dapat maklaro. Una, hindi ito joint venture. Panglawa, iyung P40 tipping fee ay required every household. Pangatlo, ang City Government ang maniningil nito. Pang apat, kung kulang iyung load ng basura, babayarin ng city ang balance. At ang pinakagrabe ay itong loan na paulit-ulit kong tinanong. Who will obtain it? Sabi ng German, it will be city of course. I said, 'Is that so?' Then I concluded the meeting," he told Sun.Star Pampanga.

After the meeting he requested Vice Mayor Edwin Santiago and the City Council, particularly Committee on Environmental Protection Councilor Jimmy Lazatin to make a move on the closure of the agreement.

He said Aquino, who was by then at the Congress as the province's third district representative, wrote him requesting that the project be implemented.

"I told them I will not implement that," stressed Rodriguez, adding "This is like a contract between a shark and a sardine that is not implementable, and is disadvantageous to the welfare of Fernandinos, especially the poor."

He said even with impending "legal niceties," some of those who signed the agreement were willing to testify and attest to what really transpired during the contract signing. (Jovi T. de Leon)