Cauguiran to AC officials: ‘Amend ordinance for P1B nonessential projects’

Mayoralty aspirant Alexander S. Cauguiran disclosed that he has formally requested the city government to amend the budget ordinance appropriating P1 billion for the construction of a new city hall and a sports complex which he described as “nonessential and not responsive to the priority needs of Angeles city residents.”

Cauguiran’s appeal came amid growing speculations from several quarters that the projects are being fast-tracked in preparation for the election next year.

In his letter dated November 5, 2018 and sent by registered mail to Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan and Vice Mayor Bryan Nepomuceno wrote that “as a concerned tax payer and resident of Angeles City, may I formally appeal to the Honorable Gentlemen to amend the city government’s Appropriation Ordinance No. 325, S-2017, S-2017 (PO-1045-07-18).”

“Under the said ordinance,” Cauguiran explained , “the total sources of funds amounted to P1,292,428,720.23. These came from two separate borrowings from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in the total amount of P1,226,800,000 ; the city government’s Savings – P10,527,900.00; and Reverted appropriations from Debt Service – P27,732,475.76, Medical Trust Fund (MTF) – P14,058,837.00, Renal Care Unit – P4,197,816.00, and Surplus from the 2017 PAGCOR fund – P9,111,691.47.”

“The ordinance appropriated P580 million for the construction of a new 5-storey city hall with a P60-million multi-level steel parking, and P360 million for a sports complex for a total P1 billion which I am now appealing to be used for the Ospital Ning Angeles and the City College of Angeles by way of amending the ordinance. I am not objecting to the other appropriated items like the clothing allowance for employees, purchase of vehicles, dialysis machines, and other essential outlays, “ Cauguiran explained.
Cauguiran said that vice mayor, as presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, whose primary functions include the use of the city’s financial resources, has failed to conduct a thorough study of the projects.

“In the first place, the vice mayor should have conducted public hearings on the mayor’s request for authority to secure a loan P 1,226,800,000. from which P1 billion will be used for the new city hall, multi-level steel parking, and sports complex. From all indications, it appeared that the the passage of the appropriation ordinance was simply railroaded, without consultation with the various sectors of the city. The council is a deliberative body and as the head of the council, the vice mayor should have moved very cautiously because the projects have to be funded through a long term loan,” Cauguiran said.

“This is where I differ from him in matters of public policies. Aside from my firm belief in public consultation, I can emphatize with ordinary residents and relate to the needs and aspirations of ordinary families because I am from them,” Cauguiran said.

“Why do we still have to build a sports complex,” Cauguiran said, “when a bigger one that meets international competition standards is already being constructed at the New Clark City? An aquatic center similar to the London Aquatic Center for the 2010 Olymplics is also being built. In addiition, there will be an athletes’ village with 500 rooms that can house up to 1,000 athletes. The Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) has also announced that a world-class football pitch will be one of the open sports facilities at the Clark Parade Ground which is being developled into a premier sports tourism and eco-tourism site. All these facilities are just minutes away from Angeles City. ”

“Surely, as one of the LGU’s who concurred with the creation of the Clark Special Economic Zone, we could always draw up a Memorandum of Agreement with the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and BCDA with regard to the use of these facilities, including the training of our athletes for regional, national, and even international competitions. Building another sports complex in Angeles would simply be a costly redundancy, especially because this will be funded by borrowed money to be repaid over a long period of 15 years. This is aside from the previous loans that the city government is heavily burdened with. In fact this year alone, the city has appropriated P176 million for debt service, ” Cauguiran added.

Cauguiran said that even if the bidding of the sports complex had already been held on 25 September 2018, no award has yet been made.

“My layman’s understanding of the Section 41 of the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act No. 9184),” Cauguiran said, “is that the city mayor can still opt not to award the project by invoking Section 41 (c) of the procurement law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).”
In his letter, Cauquiran quoted Section 41 (c) as basis for MaPamintuan not to award the construction of the sports complex:
“The HoPE (Head of Procuring Entity) reserves the right to reject any and all bids, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract (emphasis supplied) in the following situations:
“3. c) For any justifiable and reasonable ground where the award of the contract will not redound to the benefit of the GoP, as follows: (i) if the physical and economic conditions have significantly changed so as to render the project no longer economically, financially, or technically feasible, as determined by the HoPE; (ii) if the project is no longer necessary as determined by the HoPE (emphasis supplied) ; or (iii) if the source of funds for the project has been withheld or reduced through no fault of the Procuring Entity.”
“With regard to the construction of a new city hall which is scheduled for bidding on 13 November 2018, if the Honorable Mayor and Vice Mayor so decide, the former could issue a formal notice suspending the project subject to further study. This is also one instance where the vice mayor could prove that he has a mind of his own and can move independently by calling for the suspension of the projects pending further public consultations,”,” Cauguiran said.

Caugurian also proposed in his letter that the supplemental budget ordinance be amended by appropriating the amount of P1 billion for the improvement and expansion of the Ospital Ning Angeles (ONA) – P580 million; and improvement and expansion of the City College of Angeles (CCA) – P420 million.

“ONA is the first if not the only refuge of thousands of city residents who need to be hospitalized. With its inadequacies in space, medicines, and medical and laboratory supplies, many of our residents have to go to the Jose B. Lingad Hospital in the City of San Fernando. It is a shame that we could not take care of our own, particularly because other LGUs like the Province of Pampanga, under the administration of Gov. Lilia Pineda, do provide quality health and hospital services to the province’s more than 500 barangays. Why can’t we not do the same for the city’s 33 barangays – considering that there is no substantial disparity of revenues between the provincial and the city governments,” Cauguiran said.

Cauguiran, the official candidate of KAMBILAN, a local political party co-founded by Pineda, pledged to “implement the program of KAMBILAN and follow the example of the Gov. Pineda to provide quality health and hospitalization services especially to those who cannot afford private hospitals.”
In the same letter, Cauguirang observed: “The City College of Angeles (CCA), on the other hand, is essential to reduce poverty – a goal we all claim to strive for. Education leads to employment which in turn provides additional income for the family. Providing college education to those who coud not afford private education is perhaps one of the noblest missions that any local government unit could pursue. The city college is a beacon of hope for poor familiies. ”

Cauguiran said that to make the CCA more inclusive the admission test at the CCA should be phased out. “Remedial lessons should be provided to those who are academically challenged,” he added.

“But like any learning institution,” Cauguirian’s letter continued, “ the CCA will always be a work in progress. Every year, thousands of students want to pursue college education. Those who can afford continue their studies in private colleges and universities. The CCA enfolds those who can’t. It is precisely for this reason that all the ordinary residents I have talked to would rather have more classrooms at the CCA than a sports complex. “

Cauguiran said that all city residents he consulted with did not approve of the construction of a new city hall and sports complex. “I have yet to hear one ordinary city resident who favors the construction of a new city hall over the expansion and improvement of ONA. This is quite understandable since ONA is already bursting at the seams,” said in his letter.

“To avoid misleading and confusing Angeles City taxpayers and the general public, the vice mayor, who is also the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod should explain and fully disclose all documents related to the budgetary items contained in the supplemental budget ordinance appropriating the total amount P1,292,428,714.23,” Cauguiran said.

“It is sad,” Cauguiran said, “that instead of facing the questions head on, “some persons who claim to be speaking on behalf of the mayor and vice mayor are muddling the issue, using the social media.”

“Full transparency, “ Cauguiran said, “is the only way to quell what one well respected columnist described as ‘nastiest suppositions of fund-raising’ since the projects come close on the heels of the midterm elections.”