Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nanding: It's Ambing's fault

EMBATTLED Councilor Reynaldo Advincula has gone ballistic over the city’s market mess even as he lashed at ex-mayor Pablo Magtajas and his former colleagues in the city council for city hall’s failure to collect stall rentals.

But as he hurled brickbats at Magtajas and the opposition, Advincula also gave a hint on the amount of bad debts the Emano administration and its council wrote off. Last April, Advincula and other councilors approved an ordinance writing off the vendors’ debts in 2001 and the preceding years. The ordinance did not state how much the bad debts were.

However, Advincula said the vendors’ debts reached nearly P10 million because of an ordinance passed by the city council during the Magtajas administration.

It was Magtajas who pushed for the passage of the ordinance that increased market stall rentals, he said.
"Magtajas is the culprit... the debts balloooned from thousands to millions of pesos because of his ordinance," said Advincula who served as a councilor then.

Advincula said the debts accumulated because vendors at that time found the new rates exorbitant. He said vendors leasing stalls at the meat sections of the markets were adversely affected.

He said he voted against the Magtajas ordinance. "I objected and did not vote but the ordinance was approved. I was the only one who opposed."

Advincula accused the councilors at that time of approving the ordinance ‘‘without thinking.’’

The councilors then are mostly prominent figures of the local opposition today.

Advincula said Magtajas pushed for the approval of the ordinance after he created through an executive order the City Economic Enterprise Management Board (CEEMB).

Because the vendors were badly hit, Advincula said the Meat Vendors’ Association of Cagayan de Oro (Mecameva) and other market-based organizations brought Magtajas to court. He said the case reached the Supreme Court.
The case, he said, prompted vendors to stop paying their rent.

"That (increase) is the reason why some of the market vendors also withdrew from their stalls," Advincula said.
Advincula said the stall rent (1½ x1½ meter space) was only P60 before the Magtajas administration increased it to P900 and subsequently to P1,000 per stall.

Because of this, Advincula said the Emano administration decided to condone the vendors’ debts, including penalties and surcharges, in 2001 and earlier through Ordinance no. 10127-2006.

Advincula said Emano and the present councilors saw the Magtajas ordinance as ‘‘defective,’’ hence the move the write off the bad debts.

He said when he favored the approval of the ordinance last April, it did not mean that "I voted to write off my own debts.’’

‘‘It was jointly moved and jointly seconded," he said.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ombudsman : Mindanao "Least Corrupt"

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MIKE BAÑOS / June 22) If the state of graft and corruption in the country was gauged by the number of cases filed with the Ombudsman, Mindanao would be the "least corrupt" region in the entire Philippines.

"When I started my term seven years ago, we had 1,500 pending cases," said Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Antonio E. Valenzuela. "By the end of 2005, we only had 330 cases remaining in various stages of investigation, from fact-finding to preliminary investigation. Although this has again risen to about 580, it still represents a significant decrease over the years."

Valenzuela joined Tanodbayan Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez and other officials from the Ombudsman for a two day visit here June 19-20 to address a seminar for barangay officials and officially inaugurate the Ombudsman's first regional office in Mindanao.

"When I started my term, we used to receive over 300 complaints a month," he added. "This is now down to some 80 monthly."

Valuenzuela, 66, will retire on July 2 after his seven year term expires. He attributes the decreasing number of graft and corruption filed with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao in Davao City to the successful implementation of the pro-active preventive programs of the Ombudsman.

"In fact, I can tell you barangay officials are not corrupt," Tanodbayan Gutierrez told the 160 barangay officials in her keynote address during the one-day seminar on "Integrity Development and Public Accountability" hosted by the city June 19. She said the cases filed against barangay officials show that "the acts committed were more in abuse of authority than dishonesty. Medyo yumayabang."

Guiterrez said the Office of the Ombudsman has committed itself to "shepherd a convergence process that would lead to the formation of a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Program of Action (NACPA) that would involve many sectors, as well as LGUs and barangays, in a focused effort to fight head-on the scourge of corruption."

Acting Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn A. Baliton attributed the success of the Ombudsman in curbing the number of graft and corruption being investigated by their office not only in Mindanao but nationwide (from 12,000 to 10,000) to the two-pronged holistic approach of the "pro-active/reactive" strategy espoused by the Tanodbayan.

This includes increasing awareness of the extent of the problem by society in partnership with the media, values formation of government officials through initiatives like the Ehem! Aha! Anti-corruption cultural seminar being implemented with the help of the Society of Jesus, Integrity Development Review which aims to study "systems-based corruption prevention" in critical government agencies like the BIR, Bureau of Customs, PNP, LTO and DPWH; institutionalizing reform through the establishment of "integrity committees" with a champion in each agency, the resident ombudsman and stakeholders; and by strengthening the system of "Resident Ombudsman" by promoting integrity through the association of regional officials and repositioning their roles from policemen or spies to a group of men and women complementing the anti-corruption and prevention programs in their respective agencies.

Gutierrez admitted in her talk at the inauguration of the Cagayan de Oro regional office her inclination of a "pro-active, reactive" strategy for the Ombudsman since she took over the agency six months ago.

"Although I favor the pro-active stance over the reactive, for now the two will have to be combined, much like a pincher attack on the enemy from two directions…one strengthens the other," she added.

Valenzuela admitted to the success of the two-pronged strategy in curbing the number of pending cases in Mindanao.

"It is very difficult to recover stolen money," the retiring Deputy Ombudsman said. "Better to prevent and discourage graft and corruption by encouraging honesty and integrity."


B'non transport group slams bus firm for breaking agreement

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY ( AMOR BARLISAN / June 21) ORGANIZED public vehicle operators and drivers yesterday called on Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri to step in and act on a complaint against the bus company Super 5 for alleged "undercharging."

The group’s lawyer, Eleazer Boycillo, urged Zubiri and other Bukidnon officials to act because the firm allegedly failed to comply with an agreement against undercharging signed by Super 5 owners Paul and Marieta Padayhag.

Boycillo said the ‘‘covenant’’ was made after Zubiri initiated a negotiation in Malaybalay on Nov. 7, 2005.

He accused Super 5 of sabotaging the local transport industry.

A complaint against the Padayhags has been filed before the Land Transportaion Franchising and Regulatory Board in connection with the alleged fare undercharging.

The Bukidnon Operators and Drivers Association (Boda), Vans-for-Hire Operators in Bukidnon (VHO), and Northern Bukidnon Transport Service Cooperative (BTSC) recently filed another complaint against Super 5 for ‘‘willfully and maliciously’’ violating the LTFRB’s passenger fare matrix.

"Not only did they violate the fare matrix, they also broke the ‘covenant’ that we have signed in front of Gov. Zubiri," Boycillo said.

He said what Super 5 allegedly did was and insult and ‘‘a slap on Zubiri’s face.’’

Boycillo said operators and driver of small public vehicles in Bukidnon were adversely affected. He said the practice of undercharging posed unfair competition and it ‘‘is killing the transport undustry.’’

"We have been suffering from this undercharging by Super 5 since 1992," Boycillo said.

"We want the immediate intervention of local government officials otherwise, we won’t survive," Boycillo added.

A similar complaint has been aired against Super 5 by transport groups in Iligan, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental. The groups have threatened to paralyze much of the public transportation in this part of the country unless the LTFRB acts on a complaint against the bus company.

The LTFRB has set a pre-hearing of the case against Super 5 on June 30.

"If the LTFRB fails, we will joining Iligan and Lanao del Norte groups in their plan to stage a strike," Boycillo said.

"can be read at Gold Star Daily>Link

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nanding to Ambing: Look who's talking?

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. that can be read at Gold Syar Daily


No COWD overpricing says Baldelovar

A DIRECTOR of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) yesterday denied any hand in the alleged overpricing of water meters and machines bought by the firm last year.

There was no overpricing, said former broadcast executive and COWD board secretary Joel Baldelovar.

Baldelovar, a former area manager of Bombo Radyo Philippines, and COWD chairperson Raymundo Java were linked to the alleged irregularities involving the purchase of water meters, a compressor and a welding machine.

But Baldelovar said he and Dr. Java did not decide on their own. He said the decision to buy devices and equipment was approved by the COWD board which is a ‘‘collegial body’’ composed of members with ‘‘independent minds.’’ It was, according to Baldelovar, ‘‘a collective decision."

He described the accusations as ‘‘foul and unfounded’’ and ‘‘fabricated,’’ adding that the COWD board’s decision in all the transactions ‘‘were all above board and legal."

He said the accusations were devoid of logic because the members of the COWD board include former city prosecutor Viviana Sarmiento and prominent Cagayan de Oro lawyer Frederico Gapuz. ‘‘It is illogical that they would concur and cast their votes on something that is illegal," said Baldelovar.

Councilor Zaldy Ocon, who received the complaint, said he would ask Java and Baldelovar to shed light on the matter before the city council.


On the purchase of a compressor, Baldelovar said the firm Civic Merchandising had a "budgetary offer" of P984,500 for a brand new Ingersoll-Rand Compressor, Model P185WIR, as of March 30, 2005. But he explained that the offer was valid for 30 days only or until April 29.

On April 7, 2005, according to Baldelovar, a purchase requisition (PR) was made for a brand new air compressor. However, he said, the bidding was made by the COWD’s Bids and Awards Committee on Nov. 8, 2005 or seven months after the PR was issued.

"The ‘budgetary offer’ was for 30 days only so it lapsed," Baldelovar said.
Prior to the bidding or on Oct.17, 2005, he said COWD general manager Engr. Gaspar Gonzales Jr. received another price quotation from Civic Merchandising for the latest Ingersoll-Rand compressor model (P185 Platinum Series). He said it was priced at P1.8 million.
According to Baldelovar, the previous model was no longer available in the market as the "last inventory had already been disposed in Singapore."

"Obviously, it was no longer a ‘budgetary offer’," Baldelovar said.
He denied that he, Java and the supplier met shortly before the purchase.

Baldelovar said a failure of bidding was declared last Nov. 8 because the approved budget was only for P984,500. This prompted the COWD board to unanimously approve P1.8 million to buy the Ingersoll-Rand compressor, Model P185 Platinum Series, through "direct contracting."
"Direct contracting" is an alternative method of procurement if goods are sold by an exclusive dealer or manufacturer as provided for under R.A. 9184.

Welding Machine

He said ‘‘direct contracting’’ was also resorted to when the COWD board unanimously approved the purchase of a welding machine.

Baldelovar admitted that there was an offer for a Hobart Contractor 251D for P589 thousand plus a trailer amounting to P48,200 only. But Baldelovar said COWD considered it ‘‘disadvantageous in the long run’’ because spare parts were no longer available in the market.

"Should the board of directors be faulted and accused maliciously when they only acted and exercised their discretion according to what is legal and practical under the circumstances?" Baldelovar asked.

Water Meters

He also strongly denied that water meters bought by COWD were overpriced, saying the allegation was baseless.

In 1997, Baldelovar said, the COWD board passed a resolution to purchase Asahi Meters since it passed the tests conducted for accuracy and efficiency.

"Do Java and I have a hand in the prices of Asahi Meters when the same has been there even before we entered the COWD?" asked Baldelovar, pointing out that the price has been set years before their appointment to the COWD.

Java rejoined the COWD board in January 2001 while Baldelovar was appointed director effective Jan. 1, 2005 by Mayor Vicente Emano.