Tuesday, June 20, 2006
COUNCILOR Reynaldo Advincula lashed at ex-mayor Pablo Magtajas, accusing the city’s former leader of ‘‘early politicking’’ in an effort to win market votes at his expense.
Magtajas has accused Advincula of maintaining stalls in city hall-owned markets in Cogon, Agora in Lapasan, Carmen and Bulua in violation of the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials.
But Advincula said Magtajas was merely riding on what he called a smear campaign against him.
Before pointing an accusing finger, Advincula said Magtajas should first explain the release of P23 million supposedly to pay for a feasibility study for a bridge project shortly before the then mayor stepped down in 1998.
He said Magtajas released the fund on March 26, 1998, shortly before the 1998 deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.
"Was that lawful? He (Magtajas) released it without a feasibility study," Advincula asked, adding that the city council, at that time, approved a build-operate-transfer scheme for the Magtajas administation-planned bridge.
Advincula was a member of the city council at that time but he claimed he did not vote in favor of the check’s release because some requirements were not complied with.
"I have a record and I have the details. The question is, where is the P23 million?" he asked. He said he even kept a photocopy of the P23-million check issued by city hall nearly a decade ago.
Which is why, said Advincula, Magtajas should not portray himself like an ‘‘innocent child’’ and like he is ‘‘clean as crystal.’’
He added: "I’m not saying that Magtajas pocketed the money... I’m just asking ‘where is now the money?’"
Advincula denied he was leasing stalls in any of the city’s public markets.
He said he used to be a stallholder but he waived his right in favor of his sister in 1992 when he became chair of the council’s economic enterprise committee. The stall which he had since 1970, he said, is now registered under the name of his son Reynaldo Jr.
Advincula said he had owed city hall less than P10 thousand in back rentals. But the debt was written off by city hall on the basis of Ordinance no. 10127-2006, he said. The city also wrote of all surcharges and penalties.
"The ordinance applies to all stallholders in the public markets of the city," said Advincula. ‘‘At present, I have no more stalls.’’
He said his sister suffered a stroke recently and her regular payments to city hall were affected.
Advincula said the stall had been awarded to him without political intervention. "It was purely own my own."
Earlier, Advincula admitted to owning coin-operated "videoke" and video game machines at the 3rd floor of Cogon market. The establishment, he said, is registered under the name of his business partner Rene Cordova and a relative.
Advincula said he yielded the business to Cordova after city legal officer Cancio Guibone questioned his business interests at Cogon market.
He said it was unfair of his critics to be accusing him of using his city hall position for his business interests.
Advincula said, ‘‘If that’s true, I would already own a house and a car like some politicians who have enriched themselves by having secret transactions.’’ He said he still lives in a ‘‘squatters’ area’’ near Agora market.
"I have been living with vendors, and I have been serving them for 16 years. I know their problems and I understand the masses,’’ said Advincula.
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