By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — An official of Mountain Province urged the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to withhold the release of the P265 million approved loan that the provincial government applied for.
The said loan which was allotted for various infra-structure projects of Mountain Province has to be investigated and cleared first by the Commission on Audit, the LBP and other government agencies to insure that the amount does not get subjected to graft and corrupt practices, as allegedly happened with the first project funded by an earlier loan.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) member Francisco Balisong wrote LBP CEO Gilda C. Mendoza to stay the release of the second tranche of the first loan made by the provincial government to the totals of P37 million, and abort the second loan amounting to P228 million.
Balisong is an elected member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sagada, Mountain Province and a member of the provincial SP being the president of SB members of the various towns of the province.
It was learned that Sangguniang Panlalawigan members came up on May 2 last year with Resolution No. 105 which granted authority to the provincial governor to transact the P37 million loan with the LBP for an infra-structure project, a road in Besao. Such road is near completion.
Gov. Leonard Mayaen welcomes the move of SP Balisong specially if such move was with valid and legal grounds.
It will further help the provincial government towards its present stand for good governance said Mayaen adding: ”It will further its (provincial) image after it received last month its seal of good house keeping from the Department of Interior and Local Government.”
Mayaen pointed out however that if the move of SP Balisong is personally or politically motivated, then he will be answerable to the beneficiaries which includes his municipality, Sagada.
Already, 50 percent of the amount on the Besao infra-structure project was released. But Balisong’s worry was more on the alleged sub-standard and change of materials as contained in their approved program of work.
He observed that instead of river stones to be used for the riprapping, the stones were sourced out from the project site, which he said is not fit for the said project. He pointed out that even the thickness of the riprapping as programmed was changed.
“The width of the existing road project (in Besao) was reduced by 0.5 M and 1 M so that they could advance the accomplishment (of the project),” he said. He also pointed out that there was no actual bidding done and it was without proper publication of the project as required by the government.
Earlier, Gov. Mayaen and the SP members agreed that the P37 million loan would be worked out for a counterpart for the CHARMP, Balisong said in his letter. It was not done however and Balisong learned from CHARMP that it was because of the very strict monitoring and evaluations that the CHARMP counterpart was not sought for.
Another bigger loan
On September 19, 2011, another Resolution No. 245 was passed by the SP which authorized the provincial governor to transact a loan from the LBP to the amount of PhP 228 million.
The amount would be used to fund various infra-structure projects in the province, Nordis learned from various sources in the province.
In a phone interview, Balisong said that loan for road improvements and infra-structure projects is an unwise decision as there is no return of investment to subsidize the loan and insists that there must be 90 percent counterpart from local or foreign donors for such kind of projects.
“These kinds of infra-structure projects are pushed because of bigger benefits by those involved with the projects,” he said.
Use annual development fund for infra-projects
Balisong explained that the province can utilize the 20 percent development fund from their annual budget for these infra-structure projects instead. He alleged that with the LBP loans, they are burdening the taxpayers with the high interests from these loans.
Nordis learned that the annual budget of MP totals to P437 million. Twenty percent of the amount or P 87.4 million is allotted for development projects. # nordis.net