P91M Sabangan, LBP loan accord scored

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SABANGAN, Mountain Province – An anti-corruption advocate questioned the P91-million loan agreement entered into by the municipal government and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Tabuk City branch for alleged corruption, grave abuse of authority that casts serious doubts on the real intent of the multi-million loan.

In their letter dated March 2, 2021, Juniper Dominguez and Richard Budod, both natives and residents of the municipality, alleged that the municipal government did not conduct the required public consultation among concerned sectors of the municipality to ascertain their sentiments when the loan was applied for and eventually acquired to fund the implementation of identified priority projects of the local government.

Further, the complainants claimed that the loan agreement had missing important data and entries like the municipal ordinance number duly enacted by the municipal council on a specific date, among others, that are warranted to ensure the validity of the aforesaid loan agreement.

The secretary of the municipal council issued a certification dated January 23, 2021 stating that the loan agreement between Sabangan and LBP received by the municipal council on December 22, 2020 was received with no data or entries as to date of signing, acknowledgement and requisite number of municipal ordinances and date of its enactment.

According to them, there is an obvious grand design by the involved in parties in leaving the said entries blank when in similar contracts, financial lending institutions make sure that all the data being requested are provided to ensure the release of the desired loan.

The complaints raised the issue on whether or not it is moral, proper or legal for all sensitive data and entries in a loan agreement be left blank and if it is appropriate or legal for the Bids and Wards Committee (BAC) of the municipal government to conduct a bidding starting in December for the projects to be funded by a loan agreement without the municipal council ratifying the loan agreement.

Moreover, the complainants also quipped on whether or not it is moral and legal for the municipal engineer to conduct soil testing on the project site after the bidding and what will happen to the conducted public bidding if the soil testing is not favorable for the proposed project.

The petition also questioned the BAC for pursuing the conduct of the public bidding for the multi-million projects funded by the loan despite having a lone bidder which is in violation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the principle of competitive bidding.

Dominguez and Budod also doubted the failure of the BAC to advertise the multi-million bidding of projects in a generally circulated publication in the region for interested and qualified bidders to participate and not just posting the said notice in the bulletin board of the municipality, photocopying the same for proof of service and subsequently removing it obviously to suit the whims and caprices of the powers that be.

The loan is intended to finance the construction of a multipurpose building with parking area and retaining wall amounting to more or less P49 million; put up of the municipal dialysis and laboratory center building with retaining wall amounting to more or less P22 million; acquisition of hemodialysis machine with accessories and various laboratory equipment amounting to P5 million and to augment the working capital requirements of the municipal dialysis and laboratory center amounting to P15 million.

For the P49 million loan, the term of repayment shall be 15 years inclusive of 3 years grace period on principal while on the P22 million loan, it will be repaid in 7 years inclusive of 1 year grace period on principal.

On the other hand, the municipal government is given 5 years to repay the P15 million loan inclusive of 1 year grace period on interest.

For his part, Mayor Marcial Lawilao, Jr. stated that he will not issue a comment on the aforesaid petition until such time that an official copy of the same will be received by the municipal government. By HENT

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