Tabuk City, Kalinga – Five petitioners filed on Thursday, January 13, a temporary restraining order at the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 to prevent the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) from releasing the proceeds of the P1,925,000,000 loan of the city government of Tabuk.
Jerome B. Tabanganay, Jamillah S. Dalilis, Casan M. Calil, Sunshine S. Busaing, and Daniel C. Peckley Jr. filed their petition on their behalf as taxpayers against DBP, Tabuk CLGU represented by Mayor Darwin C. Estrañero, Acting Vice Mayor, Atty. Zorayda Mia M. Wacnang, and members of Sangguniang Panlungsod.
“Maawa po kayo sa mga Tabukenyo, huwag po kayo mangutang ng dalawang bilyong piso sa Development Bank of the Philippines. Mag-eleksion na po sa May 9, 2022, at hindi po kayo sigurado na mananalo uli, bakit kayo mangutang ng napakalaking pera sa DPB. Tabukenyo GISING na po tayong lahat. NO TO DBP LOAN, NO TO CORRUPTION!” posted Tabanganay on his social media.
How was the P1.9 billion loan approved?
Documentary evidence provided by the petitioners states that SP Tabuk City approved on September 7, 2020, the request of Estrañero to negotiate and sign agreements with DBP for a standby letter of credit thus, allowing the mayor to enter into Omnibus Term Loan Agreement.
SP Tabuk City adopted on February 15, 2021, Resolution No. 021 ‘for the acquisition of a loan to finance the implementation of the enumerated development programs and projects of the city.’
Under the resolution, the projects indicated are: Purchase of COVID-19 Vaccines with an allotted fund of P50 million; Construction of 100-Bed Level 2 Tabuk City Hospital, inclusive of hospital equipment with P950 million; Construction of Legislative Building with P110 million; Improvement of City Hall Building and Compound with P90 million; Construction of Training Center-Balong Agro-Food with P30 million; Improvement of Various Roads from Unpaved to Paved with P715 million; Purchase of relocation site in Agbannawag with P20 million and Purchase of relocation site in Lacnog with P10 million.
The resolution was approved by the majority of SP members. Only Samuel Sumaal, Atty. Zorayda Mia Wacnang, and Vice Mayor Bernard Glenn Dao-as did not sign the resolution.
Appropriation Ordinance No. 003 series of 2021 enacted by SP Tabuk City was forwarded to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for review and approval on September 30, 2021, but SP Kalinga neither approved nor disapproved the appropriation ordinance. The ordinance, after the lapse of 90 days, was deemed approved in accordance with Section 327 of the Local Government Code.
Major arguments raised by the petitioners
The petitioners argued that even before the appropriation ordinance lapsed into law on December 28, 2021, Mayor Estrañero has already started the bidding process of the identified projects.
The petition states that as early as December 8, 2021, Tabuk CLGU through its Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) has published Invitations to Bid (ITB) in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) for some projects identified in the loan agreement.
The Pre-Bid conferences were held on December 15, 2021, and the bid documents were opened on December 28, 2021.
As per information of the petitioners, the Notices of Awards were already given to winning bidders. The completion of bidding for some identified projects worries the petitioners that portions of the loan might be released anytime soon, if not restrained.
“If DBP will be allowed to release any amount of the loan, the damage to be suffered by the petitioners and all taxpayers of Tabuk City will certainly be irreparable and grave considering that it involves the use or misuse of taxpayers’ money,” reads the petition.
Roads to be paved not particularly itemized
Dalilis, in an interview, voiced out her concern, specifically pointing to the non-identification of roads to be paved saying, “apay ngay nga aprobaran da nga awan nakakabil nu anya dagita. Awan pay ti measurement dagita. Kasanu maamwan nga talaga nga para kalsada dayta nga P745 million?”
Violation of authority granted by SP
The projects identified in Resolution No. 021 which granted authority to the mayor to negotiate and enter into an agreement with DBP sum up to P1,975,000,000. However, the projects under the Omnibus Term Loan Agreement amount to P1,925,000,000.
The P50 million fund for the purchase of COVID-19 purchase indicated in the resolution approved was not included in the loan agreement. The purchase of relocation sites in Agbannawag and Lacnog was also slashed out. The fund for the improvement of various roads from unpaved to paved increased from P715 million fund to P745 million.
“Clearly, Mayor Estrañero committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when he executed the Omnibus Term Loan Agreement,” said the petitioners.
Non-publication of loan
The petitioners claim that the resolution granting authority to Estrañero, the ordinance ratifying the loan agreement, and the appropriation ordinance are not effective due to the failure of the city government to cause its publication.
According to Section 59 of the Local Government Code, the resolutions and ordinances must be posted for their effectivity.
Proceeds of loan constitute illegal disbursement fund
Petitioners affirmed that the use of the proceeds of the loan for the projects in the loan agreement will constitute an illegal disbursement fund considering that the ordinances, resolutions, and the loan agreement are illegal, unconstitutional, and ineffective.
Petitioners likewise hope that the TRO be made permanent to direct DBP and Estrañero to permanent cease and desist from conducting any acts and deeds to implement the realization of the loan agreement.
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