Saturday, July 20, 2019

Cauguiran to Nepomuceno: ‘Man up’

"THE vice-mayor should man up and disclose all the records and documents, including official minutes of public hearings, resolutions and other ordinances pertaining to the loan and the appropriation ordinance. Angeleños deserve nothing less than full disclosure, they deserve to know all the circumstances.”

Thus said Angeles City mayoralty bet and Kambilan official candidate Alex Cauguiran on Monday, December 3, as he urged Vice-Mayor Bryan Nepomuceno to produce all records and documents related to the city’s P1.2-billion loan, referring to the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s approval last July of a supplemental budget funded out of the loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Cauguiran wrote Nepomuceno last November 20 requesting proof of the publication of the said supplemental budget ordinance. It was only on November 28 when the ordinance was published in a local daily, Cauguiran said.

“Our request must have prodded the vice-mayor to do what is right, and in that way we did him a favor. I am not a lawyer but failure to publish on time is inexcusable and (it) has tied all parties to all transactions under the supplemental budget to a serious legal bind,” Cauguiran added.

The bidding of the sports complex (P360 million), Cauguiran explained, along with the new city hall (P580 million) and the purchase of vehicles and heavy equipment “now suffer serious legal infirmity that can no longer be cured either by mere publication or finger-pointing.”

As presiding officer and head of the city council, Nepomuceno must answer for the consequences of his action or non-action,” Cauguiran added.

The erstwhile city hall chief-of-staff added the gravity of the billion-peso loan “must not be downgraded to a simple political controversy as this is contrary to the principles of integrity, transparency, and accountability that public servants are sworn to uphold.”

“The evasive replies (of the vice-mayor) breed more unanswered questions, that is what I observe when I discuss the controversial issue with our fellow Angeleños in various barangays. The ordinance was published four months after it was approved and now the documents related to the supplementary budget ordinance are fraught with explosive questions that put its validity or legality in serious doubt even after its publication,” Cauguiran said.

Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, provides that “in the case of highly urbanized and independent component cities, the main features of the ordinance or resolution duly enacted or adopted shall, in addition to being posted, be published once in a local newspaper of general circulation within the city.”

“This requisite is affirmed in a number of Supreme Court decisions, as in the case of Land Bank vs. Cacayuran, and even in the case of Municipality of Tubigon, Bohol that the vice mayor had cited,” Cauguiran said.

Records from the Sangguniang Panglungsod show that last October 25, 2017 the city council passed Resolution No. 7874, S. 2017, adopting the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) and the 20 percent Development Fund for 2018.

On February 26, 2018, Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan requested Nepomuceno for an authority to enter into and sign a loan agreement with the DBP for various items in the total amount of P1.2 billion.

“Were the items listed in the mayor’s letter, part of the 2018 Investment Plan? If not, what was the basis for such request?” Cauguiran asked.

On March 6, 2018 the council passed Resolution No. 7973, authorizing Mayor Pamintuan to enter into and sign a loan agreement with the DBP for various projects. On July 10, 2018, the council approved Resolution No. 8094 affirming Local Development Council Resolution No. 13, Series 2018 for the AIP Supplemental No. 02 on the term loan with the DBP.

“Obviously, the approval of the supplemental AIP came only after the city mayor had been granted authority to enter into a loan agreement with the DBP. This is putting the cart after the horse which is highly irregular,” Cauguiran said.

Cauguiran also pointed out that on July 25, 2018, the city council, vice mayor, and the mayor approved Ordinance No. 324, Series of 2018, approving and ratifying the terms and conditions of the P1.2 billion loan from the DBP.

“Then two days later, on July 27, even before same ordinance could be published, they approved the supplementary budget ordinance in the amount of P1.29 billion,” he added.

Sun.Star Pampanga tried but failed to reach Nepomuceno for comments at press time.

But earlier, Nepomuceno said Cauguiran was gravely mistaken when he said that the non-publication of the ordinance approving the P1.29 billion loan makes it illegal.

“Although publication of ordinances by highly urbanized cities is provided in the Local Government Code, it does not affect the validity of the same. This has been established by the Supreme Court in the case of the Municipality of Tubigon, Bohol," said Nepomuceno said.

"Moreover, the issue has now become moot given that the ordinances in question have been published," Nepomuceno added.

Nepomuceno added: "I am quite surprised that Mr. Cauguiran is now questioning the validity of ordinances based on their publication because during his time in the city council from 1998-2005, several ordinances were not published and yet he never questioned their validity. It is unfortunate to note that I expected Mr. Cauguiran to be more circumspect with his statements. However given that it’s election season, controversy sells.”

"As vice-mayor we have taken great strides to improve compliance with the publication requirement for ordinances, including those before my time, so as to be in line with the law. It's just a temporary halt by the release of funds but we find ways to have them published nevertheless," he added.

Despite all of this, the vice-mayor advised his team and supporters to push for a clean, honest, intelligent, and God-fearing campaign this upcoming 2019 elections.

Nepomuceno is the mayoral candidate of Partido Abe Kapampangan and endorsed by 2012 Top 8 World Class Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan.


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