COA probes P1.2B loan

WITHOUT publication of enabling ordinances to utilize more than P1 billion in loan, the Angeles City government has found itself the subject of a probe by the Commission on Audit (COA). The loophole will drag those behind the controversial loan into the prying eyes of the public particularly Angelenos who will have to choose their new or should we say old leaders at the City Hall.

Former Clark International Airport Corporation President and CEO Alexander S. Cauguiran will leave no stone unturned as far as the loan granted by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is concerned. Cauguiran has already informed COA of the issue and his partymates may even go to the Ombudsman to nail those involved in the contentious loan.

Apparently, the loan was intended for the construction of a new P580 million City Hall, a P350 million Sports Complex and the purchase of heavy equipment and vehicles. According to Councilors Jae Flores and Jay Sangil, we do not need a new City Hall and a sports complex and the huge funds can be realign for much needed government projects.

Cauguiran was hell bent on nailing Angeles Vice Mayor Bryan Nepomuceno, both facing off in the Angeles City mayoral contest along with crowd favorite Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr.

The office of State Auditor IV and Audit Team Leader Grace P. Tan will now look into the issues pertaining to the said DBP loan and may or may not see transgressions on the part of the city government. In a letter submitted to COA dated Februarry 24, 2019, Cauguiran’s group raised  serious technical irregularities primarily caused by Vice Mayor Bryan Nepomuceno’s failure to cause the publication of enabling ordinances prior to the use of hundreds of millions of public funds.

As such, “the city government, had no authority either to accept or open the bids for the construction of the new city hall (P580 million) and the sports Complex (P360 million), and or to consummate the purchase of heavy equipment and motor vehicles without the existence of effective enabling ordinances.”

Cauguiran cited Section 59 (d) of the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that for an ordinance of a highly urbanized city, like Angeles City, to be effective, it must be published at least once in local or national newspaper of general circulation.

“In this case, the bidding process, from the acceptance up to the opening of the bids, was made before the appropriation ordinance, and the ordinance for the approval and ratification of the terms and conditions of the DBP loans were published. Without effective ordinances in place – the bidding had no legal legs to stand on and is therefore invalid,” Cauguiran said.

Here are the other questions being raised by Cauguiran:

1. Nepomuceno has to explain to the people of Angeles City why funding for non-essential projects out of borrowed money was given priority over the expansion of the Ospital ning Angeles (ONA) and the City College of Angeles (CCA).  

2. Why did Nepomuceno allow the passage of an ordinance for the city to incur an enormous debt payable for 15 years, less than a year before the local elections?

It appears that there was a lack of public consultation prior to the passage of the ordinance, according to Cauguiran. Well, well, well, the voters and taxpayers will be paying for all the debts of the city government but no one was consulted?

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