Mayor hits critics of P1.7-B loan

“THEY are saboteurs.”

This was the reaction of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia after a civil complaint involving the P1.7 billion loan was filed against him, and other city officials.

Other respondents were Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Councilors Caesar Distrito, Cindy Rojas, Renecito Novero, Em Ang, Elmer Sy, Ana Marie Palermo, Dindo Ramos, Bartolome Orola, Sonya Verdeflor, Lady Gles Gonzales-Pallen, and Ayesha Joy Villaflor; City Council Secretary Vicente Petierre III; City Treasurer Giovanni Balalilhe; City Budget Officer Maria Imelda Williams; City Accountant Corazon Cardel; and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Negros Occidental Lending Center head Bernardo Catillion Jr.

On January 18, former vice mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, former councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, and businessman Antonio Wong filed the civil case for certiorari, prohibition, and annulment of contract with a prayer for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and/or preliminary mandatory injunction.

The P1.7 billion loan is intended to fund the city’s flagship projects.

These projects are Progreso Village Relocation Site with the budget of P350 million; Bacolod City College Site Development and Facilities, P350 million; Bacolod MassKara Coliseum, P800 million; and the construction of roads and bridges, P200 million.

“These persons who filed the case against us are saboteurs and in case if these projects will not be materialized, they will be blamed for it. This is a big blessing and yet, they tried to stop it,” Leonardia said.

The mayor explained that given the nature and magnitude of the projects that they are dreaming of, there is no other way to fund this but to get a loan.

“If you are talking of this amount, there is no way you can fund it to your regular budget, and we already experienced it in the past where we applied a loan to develop a relocation site as well as the construction of the Bacolod Government Center,” Leonardia said.

He said their legal team will handle the civil case, which they considered as sabotage.

“On this case, who do you think will be affected? Not our administration, it is the people that will lose something if this is not pursued. This is a brilliant opportunity which we morally are obliged to grab and use for the good of the people,” he added.

Leonardia pointed out that those who opposed the projects are anti-people and anti-progress.

“It’s all about politics. They will use this issue for their political campaign. This is not the time for politics, we should support this (projects) because this is for the development of Bacolod. We should all be like the Philharmonic Orchestra, we should be in harmony instead of disunity,” he said.

Lawyer Cesar Beloria Jr., spokesperson of the complainants’ legal team, earlier said that they would like to annul the contract between the DBP and the city government, and has sought a temporary restraining order and the preliminary injunction not to release the funds. If the funds were already released, they are seeking for a preliminary mandatory injunction to return the funds to DBP. (MAP)


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