Mabalacat Mayor Cris Garbo, his vice mayor, 11 councilors, and the City Treasurer had been hauled to the Ombudsman over the alleged lack of “transparency” that attended the approval of ordinances pertaining to the P2.070 billion loan they allegedly took from the Land Bank of the Philippines.
The administrative and graft cases had been lodged by Councilor Jun Castro, the lone city dad who opposed the appropriation ordinances that paved way for the loans which according to him had been allegedly “railroaded” by Mayor Garbo and members of the City Council. The acquisition of the land and the appropriation ordinances did not also pass through public hearings, said Castro.
Castro was also reportedly stripped of his chairmanship in the Committee on Appropriations and as Majority Floor Leader. The Committee on Appropriations is now headed by Councilor Rox Pena.
Castro revealed the appropriation ordinances approved by the City Council lacked “transparency.”
Aside from Mayor Garbo, the others were identified as Vice Mayor Gerald Guttrie Aquino, Councilors Timothy Paul Llanos Dee, Noelito Castro, Roland Pena, Carlos Francis Dizon, Hans Christian Balingit, Marjorie Grace Sambo, Victor Tiglao II, Elizabeth Pineda, Jerry Magsino, Elmer Mendiola, Cherry Manalo, and City Treasurer Marlene Mendoza.
The issue stemmed from the purchase of a 2.1-hectare of land owned by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Inc. (PLDT) in Barangay Camachiles, City of Mabalacat.
On March 8, 2023, the Mabalacat City Council in its 35th Regular Session at the SP Session Hall in Xevera Mabalacat, had approved Appropriation Ordinance No. 05, Series of 2023, authorizing Supplemental Budget No. 001-2023, involving P610,000,000 for the acquisition of the said lot in Barangay Camachiles.
Resolution No. 155 has also authorized Mayor Garbo “to sign the absolute Deed of Sale with PLDT Inc. covering the purchase of the 2.1 hectare property.”
The lot will be used as site of the proposed new Mabalacat City Government Center that will reportedly cost P2,070,000,000. On March 15, 2023, Castro said Mayor Garbo and the rest of the respondents then entered into a loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P2.070 billion for the construction of the Mabalacat City Government Center.
The P2.7 billion was appropriated for the construction of new city hall, slaughterhouse, wellness center, hemodialysis, and improvement of public market.
Castro said this loan had been taken out even though Resolution No. 91, Series of 2022, entitled “Resolution Approving the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) for FY 2023 of the Local Government of the Mabalacat City, Pampanga” approved on October 27, 2022, indicated the construction of a new Mabalacat City Government Center is not included among the mentioned projects.
Castro revealed the terms of payments is not also immediately known.
Castro had been also effectively stripped as head of the Committee on Appropriation and is now being branded as a “traitor” by an unidentified Mabalacat Councilor.
“Hindi po ako traydor. Eku pu traydor a tau. Ibat ku pu keng pakakalulu pero eku traydor,” said Castro. “Eku pu balu nung nanu ing planu ning Apung Ginu kanaku. Pero nung nanu man pu ita tangapan ku,” said Castro (“I am not a traitor. I am not a traitor individual. I came from being poor but I am not a traitor. I do not know the plans of God for me, but whatever it is I will accept it.”)
“I am fighting for truth. You are not a traitor if you are fighting for truth,” said Castro. “We want transparency and accountability.”
iOrbitNews is willing to present the side of Mayor Garbo and the 13 other Mabalacat public officials.